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The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has said that the prices of solar photovoltaic (PV) and storage systems soared in the first quarter (Q1) of 2022 compared to the corresponding period a year ago.

The price increase affected businesses and customers throughout the manufacturing and installation sectors.

In its report, NREL said that the price rise was mainly due to the Covid pandemic, which complicated supply chain constraints, industry-specific events, and trade policies.

The report added that the resultant volatility affected stakeholders differently, making it challenging to capture representative photovoltaic and storage costs.

Price benchmarks

The report adopted two pricing benchmarks to compare the increase.

The first is Minimum Sustainable Price (MSP), which is a theoretical national-average cash price under long-term market conditions.

The second is Modelled Market Price (MMP), which estimates the national-average cash sales price under market conditions.

The two types of benchmarks were introduced to help distinguish the impacts of short-term market distortions from the impacts of longer-term technology trends.

The MMP benchmark is always higher because it captures the inflationary market distortion that occurred during the relevant period.

In Q1 2022, MMP PV, storage, and PV-plus-storage benchmarks are 2%–12% higher than in 2021.

Standalone PV systems

The MMP was 13% – 15% higher than the MSP for standalone PV systems for all sectors.

The report said these differences could be estimates of the increase in national-average system sales prices between Q1 2021 and Q1 2022.

The average cost of residential PV systems saw the highest jump at 15% in Q1 2022 compared with other categories of PV systems.

Standalone Battery Energy Storage

The difference between the two benchmark types for standalone battery energy systems for all sectors was in the 10% – 13% range.

The U.S. energy storage market added 955 MW and 2,875 MWh of new installations across all segments in Q1 2022, taking the total grid-scale installations capacity to 2.3 GWh, according to a report by Wood Mackenzie and American Clean Power Association.

PV-Plus-Storage

The discrepancies between benchmark types for standalone battery energy systems are again at around 13% – 15%, for all sectors.

The U.S. has seen a drastic rise in PV plus storage installations, with 10% of all new residential PV installations and 5% of all non-residential installations, including battery storage, in 2021, according to a report by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.