For the first time, global energy markets in many parts of the developing world are registering solar power as the cheapest form of new electricity for renewable energy investments. The milestone is noteworthy as these lower solar prices do not include government subsidies or other financial support.
This trending reduction in the price of solar power is noted in an article published by Renewable Energy World, citing data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). It says with this clean energy shift, solar power is starting to edge out coal and natural gas on a larger scale. And in many emerging markets, solar now costs less to build than wind projects.
From the article:
(I)n countries that are adding new electricity capacity as quickly as possible, “renewable energy will beat any other technology in most of the world without subsidies,” said [BNEF chairman Michael] Liebriech.
We’re at a global turning point, according to the article, as the world continues to add more clean energy capacity. Each year, the total amount of added sustainable power has been outpacing all new electricity produced by coal and natural gas combined. Furthermore, fossil fuel use for electricity may hit its maximum within the next ten years.
The decrease in renewable energy pricing is largely driven by emerging nations, which now outpace member nations of the Organization of Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD). In 2015, these emerging-market countries invested $154.1 billion in clean energy technology, compared with $153.7 billion by wealthier nations. And it’s a trend that is likely to continue.
Also from the article:
The growth rates of clean-energy deployment are higher in these emerging-market states, so they are likely to remain the clean energy leaders indefinitely, especially now that three-quarters have established clean-energy targets.
China is credited as a large part of this progression, due to its rapid expansion of solar power and its financial assistance to solar projects in other developing countries.
While this is encouraging news for clean-energy advocates, the article cautions that these types of directional movements don’t happen overnight. Cheap and readily-available fossil fuels will continue to fill the void for millions of energy-impoverished areas in the near and foreseeable future.
However, with regular measured gains, many believe that the clean energy shift—away from expensive fossil-fuel-driven generators and smog-filled cities—will continue at a steady pace, with solar taking an even greater lead.