Solar energy could be giving coal a run for its money. When it comes to alternative power, coal is up against some tough contenders. It seems, however, that solar energy is leading the competition.
When it compares to other power alternatives, coal comes in as the cheapest. On average, it cost around 6 cents per kWh. However, solar is closing in fast as the cheapest source. Last year multiple countries including the United States averaged the use of solar energy for as low as 3 cents per kilowatt-hour. It is said that Mexico and even Saudi Arabia will hold auctions this year that could boost solar prices.
Solar energy is steadily becoming more proficient. The price for solar has gone down by 62 percent since 2009. With additional efficiencies added to the solar industry, the price drops.
Yet it would seem that coal isn’t taking all this lightly. Those who work in the coal industry are not hesitant to point out its consistency as opposed to solar. The sun has to set some time, right? The price that solar is continuously become well known for does not take into account the energy sources, like a battery, that is used.
However, despite the arguments against solar energy, it keeps getting cheaper. Countries like Saudi Arabia and Chile have been hosting auctions for projects that result in the lowest solar offer being the winner. There is also the addition of new innovative technology being used.
For example, this summer in Chile an auction bid for solar was at a low price of 2.91 cents per kWh. Yet an even lower price was bid at an auction in September for the price of 2.42 cents per kWh.
Despite all the benefits that solar energy has, coal doesn’t seem to be able to catch up. It’s a lot harder for coal to lower its prices as significantly as solar does. Even though there is a lack of new technology for coal like there is for solar, coal has high costs in large unionized workforces. Coal has also been around long enough to have the benefit of obtaining more than enough cost savings.
However, this is just the beginning for the solar industry. Many have high hopes for advantages the energy source will provide in the future.