Solar is fast becoming cheapest energy source

Solar energy is fast undercutting wind to become the cheapest form of electricity. Although solar has previously cost less than wind in a number of particularly competitive projects, unsubsidised solar power is now starting […]

By Jonny Bairstow

Solar energy is fast undercutting wind to become the cheapest form of electricity.

Although solar has previously cost less than wind in a number of particularly competitive projects, unsubsidised solar power is now starting to outcompete other energy sources on a much wider scale, according to a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).

The energy research group’s report says this shift was expected to happen but not as quickly as it has.

Global solar auctions have seen rapidly falling prices, especially in developing countries where capacity is being added as quickly as possible to catch up with demand.

In January, an Indian solar deal was agreed for a universally cheap price at the time of $64/MWh (£51.54/MWh). Only seven months later a deal in Chile saw a price agreed at $29.10/MWh (£23.43/MWh), a record low price for power and about half of what coal typically costs.

The shift to renewables is generally more expensive in wealthier nations, where electricity demand is flat or falling and new projects must compete with existing coal and gas plants.

The report suggests by the end of 2016  a total of 70GW of new solar capacity will be installed compared with 59GW of wind.

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