Eye opening solar PPA prices became the norm in 2016, and panel prices keep plummeting past projections. Installation methods have gotten leaner, panels are more efficient, and the future is bright for solar.
According to new data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), the cost of installing new solar in most places is now lower than any alternative, including wind, natural gas, and coal. The final frontier for solar to take the title was wind, and the line is officially being crossed as 2016 comes to an end.
“Solar investment has gone from nothing—literally nothing—like five years ago to quite a lot,” said Ethan Zindler, head of U.S. policy analysis at BNEF. “A huge part of this story is China, which has been rapidly deploying solar” and helping other countries finance their own projects.
Notably, BNEF reports that solar in many cases costs half that of coal. It’s a reminder that market forces, primarily natural gas until this point have cause coal to decline, and pressure will now come from cheap solar and wind as well as natural gas. There is little that can be done to bring back coal, especially globally. RIP.
BNEF has projected 70 gigawatts of newly installed solar in 2016 compared with 59 gigawatts of wind.
“Renewable energy will beat any other technology in most of the world without subsidies,” said BNEF founder Liebreich.