December 23, 2016

Solar Power is now the ‘Cheapest form of Energy’ in 58 Developing Nations

Solar Power is now the ‘Cheapest form of Energy’ in 58 Developing Nations

Solar energy is becoming increasingly dominant in developing countries. Photo Credit: www.alpspower.com

If we needed any more proof that solar power is the way to go, here it comes: solar energy is now officially the cheapest form of electricity in 58 low-income countries.

According to fresh data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), solar power is able to do better than coal and natural gas on ever larger scales in emerging markets, including heavyweights like China, India and Brazil.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg New Energy Finance

Photo Credit: Bloomberg New Energy Finance

The average cost of solar energy has dropped to US$1.65 million (MR4.47 million) per megawatt this year. That is now a tad cheaper than wind energy, which stands at US$1.66 million per megawatt. “Solar investment has gone from nothing — literally nothing — like five years ago to quite a lot,” said Ethan Zindler, head of US policy analysis at BNEF. “A huge part of this story is China, which has been rapidly deploying solar.”

The increasing dominance of solar energy is thanks to innovative and cheaper solar technologies, including cheaper costs for photovoltaic equipment, growing investments, and improving clean energy policies, including government subsidies. As a result, renewable energy is fast turning into the largest source of new power capacity across much of the world; so much so that the planet has just “passed a turning point and is adding more capacity for clean energy each year than for coal and natural gas combined. Peak fossil-fuel use for electricity may be reached within the next decade,” Bloomberg notes.

The record low price of solar energy in 2016 has had private companies scrambling to win contracts for massive projects to provide electricity in developing nations. “It started with a contract in January to produce electricity for $64 per megawatt-hour in India; then a deal in August pegging $29.10 per megawatt hour in Chile. That’s record-cheap electricity — roughly half the price of competing coal power,” Bloomberg explains.

All in all, this is pretty good news for a planet that is already being buffeted by the adverse affects of climate change that we have helped unleash through our burning of fossil fuels.

 

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