Solar gaining on coal in India
A KPMG study shows that the cost of solar power in India, revealed by public auctions, is barely half a cent above that of cheap local coal , writes Chris Goodall, with generators bids falling well below 5p (UK) / 7¢ (US) per kWh. The idea put about at COP21 that India and other poor but sunny countries need coal to develop their economies is fast running out of steam.
When the accountants have fully loaded the network and other costs PV ends up as very slightly cheaper than using lndian-mined coal. And, of course, this advantage will grow as solar gets cheaper.
Commentators eager to arrest the move towards renewable energy are facing increasing difficulties finding arguments for the continued use of fossil fuel.
The latest attempt to justify the use of carbon fuels is that 'otherwise people in poorer countries will never get electricity'. Coal is vital, they say, for the alleviation of the conditions of life in less developed countries.
I have recently finished a draft of a book chapter on the growth of solar around the world. The very unpolished extract below is largely based on an exceptional piece of work by KPMG India on the likely evolution of the costs of solar versus coal in that country.
I think their conclusion - essentially that solar is already competitive with coal even after including distribution charges and grid integration costs, and will become much cheaper in future - is an effective response to the 'coal alleviates poverty' meme.
Governments are increasingly using open auctions as the means by which they attract developers into building solar farms. Each participant offers an electricity price, expressed in cents per kilowatt hour, for power from individual locations. The past year (2015) has seen a sharp decline in the prices bid into these auctions everywhere around the world.
Technician installing solar panels image via Shutterstock.
Read more at ENN Affiliate, the Ecologist.