Solar costs to fall further, powering global demand: Irena

Reuters Singapore | Updated on January 08, 2018 Published on October 23, 2017

Expects 80-90 GW of new capacity, enough to power more than 8 billion LED light bulbs

Solar power costs will fall by another 60 per cent over the next decade giving an already booming market another boost, the head of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) said on Monday.

Solar power is in the midst of boom because of sharp drops in costs and efficiency improvements, pushing global capacity from virtually zero at the start of the century to 300 gigawatt (GW) by the end of 2016, a figure expected to rise again by 2020.

Irena expects 80-90 GW of new solar capacity, enough to power more than 8 billion LED light bulbs, to be added globally each year over the next five to six years, Adnan Amin, the Director-General of Irena told Reuters, exceeding a forecast of 73 GW from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

“This could easily accelerate as costs decline in the future,” said Amin. “China alone can do 50 GW a year.”

“In the next decade, the cost of (utility scale) solar could fall by 60 per cent or more,” he said here.

That growth will mark China as the world's biggest and fastest growing solar market as Beijing relies on renewable power to cut air pollution from coal-fired power plants.

While Amin said that India would also see sharp solar growth in coming years, he expected South-East Asia to be more mixed.

The solar power share of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' (ASEAN) 10 members is currently negligible.

Amin said improvements in solar technology were especially expected from thin films, which can be applied on windows. While this is already possible, it remains prohibitively expensive.

Irena also expects the cost of batteries, key to back up a technology that relies on daytime, to fall by 60 per cent to 70 per cent in the next decade.

Despite its boom, Amin said potential US trade barriers would only make solar energy more costly for the world's largest oil consumer.

Published on October 23, 2017
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