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Solar Energy Costs to Halve by 2030, Says Think Tank Study

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Solar energy is poised to transform the global energy landscape, with a recent study by Climate Energy Finance (CEF) predicting a significant acceleration in the adoption of solar power. According to the study, costs associated with solar energy are expected to decrease by 50% before 2030, leading to a disruptive shift in global energy markets and driving the transition to renewable sources.

This article explores the key findings of the CEF report, highlighting the remarkable growth of solar installations, declining costs, and the leading countries spearheading the solar revolution.

 

Solar Energy’s Expanding Horizons:

The CEF report projects an unprecedented surge in solar installations, with a growth rate ranging from 30% to 50% year over year. By 2030, total solar installation capacity could reach a staggering 1,000 gigawatts (GW) annually, facilitated by the rapid expansion of solar module supply chains worldwide and the resumption of solar cost deflation over the coming years.

 

The Underestimated Potential:

CEF criticizes the International Energy Agency (IEA) for consistently underestimating the rate of solar deployments and the resulting deflation of solar generation costs. The IEA’s “World Energy Outlook 2022” report estimates 462 GW of annual solar installations by 2030 under its Net Zero by 2050 scenario. In contrast, CEF believes that manufacturing capacity will likely support double this figure.

The Boom in Solar Investments:

Investments in solar energy are experiencing an unprecedented surge, which is expected to intensify throughout 2023. The report highlights that solar energy is becoming the most cost-effective source for new electricity generation in numerous global markets, even without a price on carbon emissions.

CEF anticipates an annual 10% drop in solar electricity costs over the next decade, culminating in a 50% reduction by 2030.

Falling Costs and Key Factors:

The plummeting prices of polysilicon, a vital raw material in solar modules, are contributing to the declining costs of solar energy. Since December 2022, polysilicon prices have decreased by two-thirds, reaching just $11 per kilogram in June 2023. Consequently, solar module prices have dipped by a third, amounting to 18 cents per watt in May 2023.

Additionally, global freight costs have decreased by more than 80% since the end of 2021. As a result of these factors, CEF anticipates an annual 10% drop in solar electricity costs over the next decade, culminating in a 50% reduction by 2030.

 

Solar Installation Trends:

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), the world achieved a record-breaking 268 GW of solar installations in 2022, with the existing global solar module manufacturing capacity reaching 600 GW by the year’s end.

CEF predicts that with the realization of planned solar manufacturing capacity expansions, the capacity will double by 2024-2025. While China leads in terms of cumulative solar installations with 414.5 GW by 2022, the European Union (EU), the USA, Japan, and India also contribute significantly to the growth of solar energy.

BNEF anticipates that China’s annual installation rate will reach approximately 260 GW by 2030, doubling the expected world record for 2023.

Leaders in Solar Development:

India and China stand at the forefront of large-scale solar projects. Notably, Phalodi in the Indian state of Rajasthan boasts the largest district for solar energy, with a capacity of 6.6 GW, including the Bhadla Solar Park, currently the world’s largest at 2.245 GW. Rajasthan aims to achieve a total solar capacity of 30 GW by FY2025.

In China, Goghe County in Qinghai’s Hainan Prefecture emerges as the second-largest district, featuring 5.1 GW across 18 plants, including the Huanghe Hydropower Developments and Longyangxia Solar-Hydro projects.

The country’s National Electricity Plan aims to achieve a non-fossil fuel energy capacity of 500 GW by 2030

China’s Dominance and India’s Renewable Aspirations:

China continues to drive solar growth, with an estimated installation of 120 to 140 GW in 2023, representing a year-over-year increase of 37% to 60%. BNEF anticipates that China’s annual installation rate will reach approximately 260 GW by 2030, doubling the expected world record for 2023.

China has been a leading force in utility solar, distributed solar, hydro, onshore wind, and offshore wind installations worldwide.

On the other hand, India is steering away from new coal power plants, focusing on renewable energy to fulfill its electricity generation requirements.

The country’s National Electricity Plan aims to achieve a non-fossil fuel energy capacity of 500 GW by 2030, and as of April 2023, India has already installed 125 GW of renewable energy, accounting for 30% of the country’s total installed capacity.

To incentivize solar manufacturing, India has implemented a 40% import duty on solar modules and a Solar Performance Linked Scheme (PLI), leading to commitments for 110 GW of module manufacturing.

 

The US Clean Energy Surge:

The USA is experiencing a surge in clean energy investments driven by the Inflation Reduction Act. This surge includes a sixfold expansion of US solar module manufacturing capacity by 2024 and a projected doubling of annual solar installations to 40 to 50 GW by the end of this decade.

the leading roles played by countries such as China, India, and the USA in driving this global transition to renewable energy.

Conclusion:

The solar energy sector is set to undergo a monumental transformation in the coming years, as costs are projected to decrease by half before 2030.

The CEF report highlights the rapid growth of solar installations, declining costs of solar modules, and the leading roles played by countries such as China, India, and the USA in driving this global transition to renewable energy.

As solar power becomes the most cost-effective source of electricity generation, the world is poised to reap the benefits of a sustainable and cleaner energy future.

M Moiz
M Moiz
M Moiz, is Research Student at Islamabad research Institute and work with THE THINK TANK JOURNAL

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