Surge in Renewable Energy as Solar Panel Prices Plummet
From The Guardian
By Felix von Geyer
The global deployment of renewable energy from wind, solar and biofuels grew in 2012 but the income from the sector remained flat due to the plummeting costs for solar photovoltaic panels.
“We always knew each doubling of [solar PV] installation would reduce prices about 18%,” the Clean Edge founder, Ron Pernick, told the Guardian. Pernick said that prices were falling because the sector was expanding rapidly, doubling every one to two years. New solar PV installations expanded from to 31GW in 2012, while revenues decreased by $12bn – or 19% – to $80bn.
Back in 2000, solar revenues were only $2.5bn and prices were set to reach so-called grid parity – costing the same as conventional energy sources – by 2020. Solar costs have already fallen from $7.50 per watt to $2.50 and are projected to reach $1.50 within five years, equivalent to between 5 and 12 US cents per kilowatt hour.
“$1.50 really is the holy grail,” said Pernick, who said that extending US tax incentives already available to the oil and gas and real estate industries could drive up investment even further.
Overall, renewable energy increased its market share of new energy investments from 1.1% in 2001 to 19% in 2012. Global wind capacity increased by 45GW, with take-up in the US surpassing natural gas investment. In total, renewable energy made up 49% of all new generating capacity in the US.
Moves by expert investors – “smart” money – accounted for much of the scale-up in renewables. Warren Buffet’s Mid-American Energy Holdings added over 500MW through acquisitions such as the $2bn purchase for Antelope Valley Solar Project that feeds Californian utility, Southern Edison. Google was also active, with its Texas windfarm acquisition taking its combined solar and wind capacity to 2GW.
Biofuels added 3.5bn gallons of ethanol and biodiesel to supplies, increasing the total capacity to 31bn gallons with revenues worth $95 billion and projected to reach $122bn by 2022.
By posting your comment, you agree to abide by our Posting rules