A recent World Economic Forum report reveals that in 2016 solar power became the same price or cheaper than fossil fuels for the first time.
The December report charts how much the cost of renewable technologies has plummeted. A decade ago, generating electricity through solar cost $600 per megawatt-hour. Five years later it was down to $300, and now the cost has fallen to around $100- about the same or less than the cost for coal and natural gas. For wind, the cost is around $50.
“Renewable energy has reached a tipping point,” Michael Drexler, Head of Long Term Investing, Infrastructure and Development at the WEF, said in a statement to Quartz. “It now constitutes the best chance to reverse global warming. Solar and wind have just become very competitive, and costs continue to fall. It is not only a commercially viable option, but an outright compelling investment opportunity.”
Australia is among the countries that have reached grid parity (the point at which an alternative energy source can generate power at a utility cost equal to the price of traditional grid power). Other nations include Japan, Germany, Brazil, Italy and France. The Solar Energy Industry Association reports the US added 125 solar panels every minute in 2016, with the cost of renewables on par with fossil fuels in many states.
The rapid rise of silicon and glass is set to continue, with the WEF projecting that two thirds of the world will reach grid parity within a few years, and that by 2020 the price of solar will be lower than natural gas or coal generated electricity across the world.
With renewable energy now an undeniable contender for development, this could result in a wholesale shift in the way energy is generated.
- Find out about Planet Ark Power a new partnership that aims to speed the adoption of economically competitive solar and energy efficiency technology across Australian business and organisational rooftops.
- Check out the Clean Energy Council’s Guide to Installing Solar for Households.