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SIMPLE Solar Balance of Systems (BoS)

Between 2008 and 2012, the price of sub-10-kilowatt rooftop systems in the U.S. decreased 37%, but 80% of that cost decline was due to decreasing solar PV module costs. Total soft costs—including customer acquisition; installation labor; permitting, inspection, and interconnection (PII); and margin and other associated costs—now make up approximately 70% of the total installed priced for a U.S. residential PV system. Thus soft costs represent a land of opportunity for cost reductions, which can help accelerate customer adoption of residential rooftop solar.

Germany and Australia provide a unique opportunity to draw a comparison as global leaders of installed distributed PV generation. When combined, the U.S., Australia, and Germany comprise over 39% of total global distributed PV generation capacity. Industry reports highlight the fact that Germany and Australia have total installed costs and soft costs at a fraction of what they are in the U.S.

Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) compared the U.S. and Germany in the December 2013 report Reducing Solar PV Soft Costs: A Focus on Installation Labor. We then turned our attention to Australia, where we conducted a similar study and analysis in the June 2014 report Lessons From Australia: Reducing Solar PV Costs Through Installation Labor Efficiency.

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