Considering how split the United States is on climate change and renewable energy, you may or may not be surprised to learn that solar power has officially become the most inexpensive type of energy in over 50 countries. What’s more, many of these are low-income countries, which means that there is definitely the potential to take advantage of solar power where more resources and investments are available. Companies and governments alike should immediately begin brainstorming for ways of abolishing all use of coal and gas for energy as soon as possible.
Research by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) reveals that the average cost of solar energy in over 50 countries is now merely $1.65 million per megawatt (2016 numbers), and this comes in below the cost of wind ($1.66 million per megawatt). More specifically, these numbers take into account average prices across 58 emerging markets, such as China, India, and Brazil.
Renewable energy should become more and more appealing to companies and governments moving forward, especially when it comes to building and investing in newer and safer power plants. As per BNEF analyst Ethan Zindler and Bloomberg, “Solar investment has gone from nothing . . . five years ago to quite a lot. A huge part of this story is China, which has been rapidly deploying solar.”
In fact, China invested $103 billion into solar projects last year, which is significantly more than the #44.1 billion the United stated invested, the $22.2 billion the United Kingdom invested, and the $36.2 billion Japan invested. Astoundingly, China has invested more money into solar projects during 2016 than all of those other countries combined! Prices continue to fall at auctions, and private firms continue to outbid one another for huge electricity contracts.
In January, India achieved a new record contract to supply solar power for $64 per megawatt-hour (MWh); however, by August the price had fallen to $29.10 per megawatt-hour. Practically, the cost of utilizing solar is approximately half the price of using for coal, and when you consider that solar is exponentially more environmentally friendly than coal, there really is no good reason to continue to burn coal and similar forms of polluting energy. According to BNEF chairman Michael Liebreich, “Renewables are robustly entering the era of undercutting [fossil fuels].”
Solar is booming because equipment costs are dropping, models like Tesla’s home batteries are becoming more appealing, and clean energy policies are improving around the planet (with the exception of one notable country, of course). Solar may not be the most inexpensive type of energy in every country yet, but renewable energy has become the largest source of new power capacity—and that’s an outstandingly hopeful achievement on its own.
As alluded to, things could and should continue to improve from hear on out. Scotland generated all of its energy needs via wind power alone for one whole day, and Portugal has managed to power itself from only renewable sources for four days straight. It may be impossible for fossil fuels to disappear overnight, but more efficient technology and government commitments could very well result in fossil fuels vanishing in time to save humanity from human-induced climate change.
*This content was inspired by an amazing article that can be found here.