Solar power becoming cheapest form of electricity
Unsubsidized solar power costs are beginning to outperform coal and natural gas and new solar energy projects in emerging markets cost less to build than wind turbines, according to a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
The study, which includes the average cost of new wind and solar from 58 emerging-market economies, including China, India, and Brazil, determined that even though the cost of solar had been expected to eventually fall below wind, steeper price declines spurred that to happen far faster than analysts thought possible.
Steep solar equipment cost drops are driving growth in new solar installations, BNEF’s latest edition of Climatescope concluded; investment in utility-scale solar in the 58 emerging nations rose 43% to $71.8 (billion) in 2015.
“Solar investment has gone from nothing — literally nothing — like five years ago to quite a lot,” Ethan Zindler, head of U.S. policy analysis at BNEF, said in a statement. “A huge part of this story is China, which has been rapidly deploying solar” and helping other countries finance their own projects.
Climatescope is a clean energy country competitiveness index supported by the U.S. and U.K. governments. It offers an overall portrait of clean energy activity in 58 emerging markets in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. The group includes major developing nations such as China, India, Egypt, Pakistan, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa as well as dozens of other.
“Solar and onshore wind have historically accounted for the majority of clean energy investment globally and their shares have grown substantially in recent years. Together, these technologies accounted for 65% of new clean energy investment in 2011. By 2015, that had risen to 94%,” BNEF said.
Solar saw the largest investment growth, from 8% in 2011 to just over 46% in 2015, the report said.