As 2016 comes to a close the solar industry is pushing the zenith further and further. For instance, installations for solar are coming in at prices lower than any other energy source, including wind power. This comes as records show the US will install record amounts of solar power in 2016.
A new report from Lazard showed that wind power and solar power are now outcompeting natural gas, coal, and all other forms of electric generation in a growing number of parts in the world. For instance, in the US the 155 MW Springbok 2 Solar Farm which came online recently came in at prices lower than coal or natural gas could fetch. It’s one of the cheapest prices for a solar project in the US to date.
As solar power is coming in at ever cheaper costs it’s also prompting some interesting things to happens. For instance, Florida Light & Power (FPL) announced that it bought a coal-fired power plant to close it early as it brings three solar power plants online. The utility, the largest in Florida, said it made the purchase specifically to close the power plant before its initial power-purchase agreement with the facility expired. In doing so, it’s saving its customers $70 million.
These are reasons why it shouldn’t be a surprise that the international solar industry is expected to see its best year ever. By the end of 2016, the world will have brought 77 gigawatts of new solar power online, according to a new report from IHS Markit. The report shows that solar power grew roughly a third over 2015. What’s more is all signs point to the US being a big contributor to the amount of solar installed across the world. The US’s own Energy Information Administration anticipated that the US will install 9.5 gigawatts of utility-scale solar power in 2016.
However, the agency only included utility-scale solar installations. In the recent quarterly Solar Market Insight report, GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association estimated that the amount of solar installed in the US in 2016 could exceed 14 gigawatts—making it roughly 20 percent of the solar power installed across the world in 2016! The insight report also included residential solar and commercial solar while the EIA report did not.
While the overall solar industry is growing in the US and abroad, there are still plenty of issues with how best to help it grow and whether it should solely be built out at the utility-scale or encouraged at the local scale. As such, net metering continues to be a contentious issue in the US. For instance, utilities in Arizona and Nevada are trying to end net-metering policies. But in at least one state, the utility commission is reconsidering net-metering.Tweet