Renewable Energy

The Real Price of Solarpanels

Posted by Martin Kleinman in Solar energy Add comments

panelen Due to very popular demand ☺ I was asked to translate my original article into English.    The original article, written in Dutch, can be found here.   Because this article is 6 months old,  I have updated the latest prices.

Last summer I received a question from one of my co-workers about our solar panels.   He didn’t want to know the recovery time of the whole set,  but the net kWh price from the generated electricity over the lifetime of the set of solar panels.  After making a calculation,  I found the conclusion surprising.

Creating a Calculation with Excel

I have made a calculation in Excel in which I have made the following assumptions:

  • Solar panels produce 850kWh/kWp every year;
  • Every 10 years the inverter needs to be replaced and a new inverter will cost about the same as the current one;
  • Cabling is not replaced in this period;
  • Yield loss on the PV plant over time is not calculated ;
  • Cost of the whole plant is done without any incentive;

I’ve calculated this for our three systems and for a virtual system from SolarNRG:

  • 93Wp installation above our front door with a OK4E inverter;
  • 1320Wp installation on the east side on a SMA SB1100 inverter;
  • 500Wp installation on the west side on a Soladin 600 inverter;
  • 2100Wp virtual set from SolarNRG, assuming the installation of this set didn’t cost anything.

The Excel file with my calculation can be downloaded here: Calculation Real Price of Solar Panels (excel).

South Installation

This set costs 300 euro’s, excluding the inverter, and  the inverter was 50 euro’s.  Three inverters amount to 150 euro’s. This set will produce 2372kWh over a period of 30 years.

kWh price : 300 + 150 / 2372 = 18,9 cents/kWh

East Installation

This set costs 3300 euro’s excluding the inverter,  and  the SB1100 inverter was 965 euro’s. Three of these amount to 2895 euro’s. This set will produce 33660kWh over a period of 30 years.

kWh price : 3300 + 2895 / 33660 = 18,4 cents/kWh

West Installation

This set costs 1050 euro’s,  excluding the Soladin 600 inverter, which costs around 350 euro’s.  Three inverters amount to 1050 euro’s. This set will produce 12750kWh over a period of 30 years.
kWh price : 1050 + 1050 / 12750 = 16,4 cents/kWh

Virtual Set

This virtual set consists of 12 Sharp NU-180-E1 solar panels on a SB2100TL inverter.  This total set costs 7325,70 euro’s.  A SB2100TL inverter costs around 1350 euro’s.  Three inverters will cost around 4050 euro’s. This set will produce 2160*0,85*30 = 55080kWh over a period of 30 years.

kWh price : 10025,70 / 55080 = 18,2 cents/kWh

Grid Parity?

All the aforementioned sets are producing electricity more cheaply than the current listed kWh price.  Currently,  1kWh will cost around 24 eurocents here in The Netherlands,  including energy tax and VAT.  With this in mind,  Grid parity for solar panels has been reached in The Netherlands.  With the virtual set from SolarNRG,  your electricity price would be fixed at 18,2cents/kWh for the amount produced each year and that for a period for 30 years.


This calculation is a very simplistic one and it doesn’t take every single item into account,  but even with this knowledge,  it’s fairly safe to say that solar panels have reached grid parity in The Netherlands.  I think it’s even more important to change our views on solar panels.  Instead of asking what the recovery time is,  the emphasis should be set on the electricity price of the solar panels.  In all the above cases,  this is way below the current listed electricity prices.

Addendum by Jan Maarten Fernig

I received quite a lot of feedback about my article.  One from Jan Maarten Fernig was very interesting.   He has an additional calculation which is interesting. This can be downloaded here Financial Calculation PV Panel (excel).

2 Responses to “The Real Price of Solarpanels”

  1. Richard Says:

    You assumed free field installation without any shadowing in your 850kWh/kWp/year number. I think you also assumed a fixed optimal free-field angle of the panel for Holland. But mounting on the East of West side of a house will result in shadow on the solar panel, thus a much lower kWh energy production …
    DIY install limits the costs to hardware-only costs.
    Financing costs for the system ruines your ‘grid-partity’ conclusion. Still subsidies would be necessary (or much higher conventional electricity prices) to make the financial picture OK. But did you ever make a complete financial evaluation when buying a new sofa or a new piece of furniture? Same for small solar systems: it adds to the quality of life for a few 1000 Euros.
    P.S. stay within the rules of your power company to prevent unnecessary costs like digital metering etc.

  2. moses Says:

    Dear sir/ Madam
    we are the one of import and distribute of solar panels in Uganda and east Africa and we are looking for solar panes 85w, 120w and 180w so we are looking for a company or supplier who can afford to supply us with that item above
    please if you are able to do this business with us you can contact us direct to the below address.
    Best and best ug ltd
    Street ,Plot
    PO BOX 2178
    Telephone: 256772832446/ 256392960753
    Fax: 0414-345597
    Email: bestand.bestltd@hotmail.com
    msn: kategaya@hotmail.com

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