Friday, September 28, 2012
Joachim Seel, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
(Paper joint with Galen Barbose and Ryan Wiser)
The wide disparity between the installed price of residential PV in Germany and the United States has been well documented and can be attributed primarily to differences in “soft” costs (or business process costs). In order to better characterize the nature of these differences, LBNL fielded a survey of German PV installers to collect granular data on the number of labor hours and labor costs associated with various soft cost elements for residential PV in Germany. The survey instrument was adapted from one that NREL previously fielded to U.S. installers, thereby providing a source of data on residential PV soft costs that could be readily compared between the two countries. The comparison focuses specifically on host-customer-owned systems installed in Germany in 2011 and in the U.S. in 2010.
Key findings from the installer survey include:
• German installers reported average soft costs of $0.62/W in 2011, which is roughly $2.70/W lower than the average soft costs reported by U.S. installers
• Customer acquisition costs averaged just $0.07/W in Germany, or roughly $0.60/W lower than in the U.S.
• Installation labor requirements averaged 7.5 hours for German systems, leading to $0.55/W lower installation labor costs than in the U.S.
(though these survey data diverge substantially from other estimates, suggesting a need for further validation)
• Permitting, interconnection, and inspection (PII) processes required
10 hours of labor, on average, in Germany, with no permitting fee, resulting in PII costs roughly $0.20/W less than in the U.S.
• German residential systems are exempt from sales/value-added tax, while U.S. systems are subject to an average sales tax of roughly $0.20/W (when considering the geographical distribution of U.S. systems and the existence of sales tax exemptions for PV in many U.S. states)
• The remaining gap in soft costs between Germany and the U.S.
(~$1.15/W) is associated with overhead, profit, and other residual soft costs not captured in the categories above