Chapter 3.png
  • New record low price set for solar

    A new record has been set for the lowest solar energy price ever, with a Spanish company winning contracts to sell power from a 120-megawatt solar plant for $29.10 a megawatt-hour. That’s the lowest price on record for electricity from sunshine, surpassing a deal for $29.90 (€26.12) a megawatt-hour in Dubai in May. It’s also the cheapest to date for any kind of renewable energy, and almost half the price of coal power sold in the same energy auction.


    According to the company, Solarpack Corp Tecnologica, it is one of the lowest rates ever for electricity from any source, anywhere. The low price is mainly due to the ever-declining cost of solar panels. The average market price dipped to 44.7 dollar cents a watt for standard polysilicon panels last month, a new record.

    Meanwhile, the share of energy from renewable sources in the world’s leading economies has grown considerably in the last five years, although the spread is not even, with Germany’s performance covering up for very slow growth in Asia.

    The latest figures compiled by the research group Bloomberg New Energy Finance for the Financial Times [paywall] show that 8% of total energy produced in 2015 in the group of 20 leading industrial nations (G20) came from renewable sources. By contrast, at the end of 2010, just 4.6% of total energy produced in the G20 was from renewables. ‘Renewable sources’ in this context means solar, wind and other ‘green’ power, but not hydroelectricity.

    Seven G20 members now generate more than 10% of their electricity from renewable sources, up from three in 2010. Germany has by far the biggest share, with 36% of its energy coming from renewables, while France, Italy and the UK all recorded 19%, Brazil 13% and Australia 11%. But the US is still only on the average of 8%, and China only registers 5%. (China is the world’s largest clean energy market, accounting for nearly a third of the $329 billion invested in renewable energy in 2015.) In Saudi Arabia and Russia the production of renewables remains ‘negligible’.

    The growth in renewable electricity has the potential to revolutionise transport. Electric trains and cars are only as ‘green’ as the power stations that generate their energy, but with the growth of solar and wind farms, electric road vehicles have the potential to more than halve the climate-changing emissions from road transport.