28/02/2017 | Posted in:energy

One recent article from Bloomberg Technologies just highlighted that solar energy is now cheaper than other traditional sources for many developing countries, including China, India and Brazil (and, logically, Myanmar !).

This situation already happened in the past in specific circumstances. But now it is the fully unsubsidized solar who is starting to cost less than wind and to outcompete coal and gas, and for good.

This “solar boom” started about a decade ago, and has been driven by big investments, bringing better technologies. But economies of scale also played an important role in the fall of the price of solar energy.

Emerging markets took the lead on renewable energies over the 35 members of the OECD (USD 154.1 billion compared with USD 153.7 billion). Furthermore, this situation will remain for a long time as developing countries are increasingly investing, and faster than other nations.

The explanation is that wealthier countries are too deeply dependent to coal and gas, and have flat or falling electricity demand. So the cost to switch to renewables is still too high. In contrast, developing countries are adding new electricity capacities. Thus today this “renewable energy […] beats any other technology in most of the world without subsidies”, said the Chairman of BNEF, Mr Michael Liebreich.

Moreover, if coal and natural gas remain the cheapest option when there is no wind or sun available, for people without any access to electricity (or to expensive kerosene generators), the shift to other green energies (biomass, geothermal, hydro) is still the best option !

SOME RECENT FACTS ABOUT SOLAR

  • Since 2009, solar equipment prices are down by 62 %

  • In 2016, the USA has installed 125 solar panels every minute ! 

  • In 2016, some countries broke records with deals to generate electricity from sunshine for less than 3 cents a kilowatt-hour, half the average global cost of coal power

  • By 2025, solar will be cheaper than using coal on average worldwide, including western countries