Solar power prices have fallen sharply over the years – RE is becoming more and more profitable!

Solar power prices have fallen sharply over the years – RE is becoming more and more profitable!

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has published a new study on the global market for renewable energy. It analyzed the costs of the different electricity generating technologies, giving their "levelized cost of electricity" (LCOE). The results show that the LCOE of the respective RE sources is steadily decreasing and approaching the values of traditional energy sources. In some cases RE has already become cheaper than electricity generated from coal and diesel power plants.

For example, between 2010 and 2019, the cost of electricity generation from large solar power plants worldwide fell by 82%; the LCOE of solar thermal power plants fell by 47%, the LCOE from onshore wind farms by 39% and for offshore farms by 29%.

In 2019, the global average cost of a kWh of electricity from large solar farms fell to $0.068; for wind power the cost per kWh decreased to $0.053 onshore and $0.115 offshore in the same year. Geothermal power plants commissioned in 2019 had an LCOE of 0.073 USD/kWh; for biofuel power plants the value dropped to 0.066 USD/kWh. In the graph a comparison of the LCOEs of different types of power plants can be seen.

For private rooftop solar the LCOE is traditionally larger than for large PV parks due to the low electricity generation capacity and comparatively high investment costs. Accordingly, for private households, the investment in a solar system is more burdensome than for large companies that can install parks in the MW range. For example, the LCOE for residential PV systems in 2019 ranged from $0.063/kWh to $0.265/kWh.

As for the cost of new industrial-scale PV park construction, the investment per kW of installed capacity has also steadily declined since 2010, reaching $995/kW in 2019. By comparison, in 2010, the average cost of a PV park was $4,702/kW.