Solar now cheapest new form of energy in nearly 60 countriesPosted: 2017-01-01
Donald Trump and the climate deniers and fossil fuel company backers he’s nominated for his cabinet don’t realize it—or refuse to believe it—but the world is starting to pass them by when it comes to developing new sources of power. In the developing world, solar power is becoming the most cost-effective new source of electricity.
In nearly 60 lower-income countries, the average price of solar energy has dropped to $1.65 million per megawatt in 2016, just below wind at $1.66 million per megawatt. That means new energy development projects will focus on solar energy rather than wind power.
“Unsubsidized solar is beginning to outcompete coal and natural gas on a larger scale, and notably, new solar projects in emerging markets are costing less to build than wind projects,” says a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a research and analysis organization for those investing in the energy industry.
This year has seen a remarkable run for solar power. Auctions, where private companies compete for massive contracts to provide electricity, established record after record for cheap solar power. 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.
“Renewables are robustly entering the era of undercutting” fossil fuel prices, BNEF Chairman Michael Liebreich said in a note to clients.
Undercutting fossil fuel prices. In other words, doing it more cheaply. And when you’re building a new infrastructure for electricity with limited resources—and you’re a country with abundant sunshine—you go with the least expensive option. And that ain’t coal, gas, or oil.