To assess the price-worthiness of PicoPV products available in the market today, and to get an idea of the price range for which they will become a serious alternative for many end users, GIZ analyzed three dimensions of costs for a PicoPV lighting devices tested in the lab, namely:
- the initial investment, i.e. the lamp price,
- monthly cost, i.e. initial investment divided by lifetime,
- lighting service cost, i.e. initial investment divided by lighting output measured in kilo-lumen-hour.
Initial Investment Costs
Such relatively high initial investment costs will prevent a large-scale diffusion of PicoPV lamps among low income
strata for the time being, given their severely restricted household budgets (typically US$ 2-5 per month for lighting, with no buffer for savings) and lack of access to financial services. The initial investment ranged from (36 US$ to 120 US$).
In contrast, monthly costs are low (2 US$ to 9 US$, except for the poorest price performer) in comparison to running costs of kerosene wick lamps and candles (2-5 US$), not taking into account their inferior lighting output.
Lighting Service Costs
In terms of lighting service costs (0.10 US$ to 0.60 US$ per kilolumenhour), good PicoPV lamps perform much better than all traditional lighting alternatives, except for the kerosene pressure lamp (which in turn is as expensive in monthly cost and initial investment cost similar to most PicoPV products).
Due to the fundamental advantage of low lighting service costs, and in consideration of falling LED prices and increasing - and volatile - fossil fuel costs (further enhanced through carbon emission reduction targets), we expect this nascent market segment to take off massively over the next five years.  Lighting Africa estimated a median payback period of around eight months, which is expected to decline to five or even two months by 2015.This is due to a forecast of price reduction of about 40%, and increasing fuel costs will increase this effect.
- GTZ. 2010. What difference can a PicoPV system make? Early findings on small Photovoltaic systems -an emerging low cost energy technology for developing countries: GIZ PicoPV Booklet
- Lighting Africa. 2010. Solar Lighting for the Base of the Pyramid - Overview of an Emerging Market -