22 August, 2011

Solar energy to rival charcoal-fired power

Sérgio Abranches

Large photovoltaic projects will cost half the current price in a couple of years, says a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. As the cost of generating electricity from the sun rivals coal-fueled plants, solar panel installations may grow strongly in the next two years, industry executives and analysts told Bloomberg News.

“We are already in this phase change and are very close to grid parity,” Shawn Qu, chief executive officer of Canadian Solar Inc. (CSIQ), said in an interview to Bloomberg News. “In many markets, solar is already competitive with peak electricity prices, such as in California and Japan.”

Chinese companies are making panels cheaper, fueled by better cell technology and more streamlined manufacturing processes. That’s making solar economical in more places and will put it in competition with coal, without subsidies, in the coming years, New Energy Finance said to Bloomberg News.

Installation of solar PV systems will almost double to 32.6 gigawatts by 2013 from 18.6 gigawatts last year, New Energy Finance estimates. Manufacturing capacity worldwide has almost quadrupled since 2008 to 27.5 gigawatts, and 12 gigawatts of production will be added this year. (Bloomberg)

China will double its solar capacity to around 2 gigawatts (GW) by the end of the year say reports by the local press quoted by Reuters. The solar feed-in tariff, the price of solar-generated electricity, could drop below 0.80 yuan for kilowatt-hour (kWh) (12.5 cents) by 2015, which would be on par with conventional coal-fired power tariffs by that time, according to a report by the Energy Research Institute, led by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), says Reuters.

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