India Tagged The Lowest Cost Solar Power Producer Worldwide

The report based on a comprehensive review of data from projects around the world has put India has the lowest cost producer of solar energy.

In what should be music to the ears of the denizens at the MNRE, IRENA’s latest report on Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2018 says, based on a comprehensive review of data from projects around the world has put India has the lowest cost producer of solar energy. With this accolade achieved, one hopes that India will allow for a higher focus on quality too now, an aspect that many players in the industry have voiced concerns about, thanks to the over arching focus on low costs.

Interestingly, India nagged  the tag of the lowest cost producer of solar power globally despite policy hurdles. The country-wise average for the total installed costs of utility scale solar PV in 2018 ranged from a low of $793 per Kilowatt (KW) – around Rs 5.5 crore per Megawatt — in India from a high of $2,427 per KW in Canada, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said.

“India was estimated to have the lowest total installed costs for new utility-scale solar PV projects that were commissioned in 2018 at $793 per KW, 27 % lower than for projects commissioned in 2017,” IRENA said in a detailed report titled “Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2018” released today.

Further, IRENA conducted an analysis of the decline in the cost of setting up solar PV projects between 2010 and 2018 across eight major markets including China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, UK and the US. The costs were found to have dropped at the fastest pace – 80 per cent – in India.

Typically, the cost of hardware — including modules, inverters and racking and mounting — account for more than a half of the total cost of setting up a solar PV project in India while installation and soft costs like financing and system design account for the rest.

In 2018, 94 Gigawatt of new solar PV capacity was added globally, accounting for 55% of the total new renewable power generation capacity additions. The largest markets for new capacity additions in 2018 were China (44 GW), India (9 GW), the United States (8 GW), Japan (6 GW), Australia and Germany (4 GW), and the Republic of Korea, Mexico and Turkey (around 2 GW each).

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The report said the sustained and dramatic decline in the cost of electricity from utility-scale solar PV continued in 2018, with a fall in the global weighted-average Levelised Cost of Electricity (LCOE) of solar PV to $0.085 per Kilowatt Hour (kWh) – 13 per cent lower than for projects commissioned in 2017.

The country-specific LCOE of utility-scale solar PV declined by between 62% in Japan and 80% in Italy between 2010 and 2018. “The year-on-year reduction in the LCOE in 2018 ranged from 21 per cent in India to a low of 1 per cent in Japan,” IRENA said.

The cost reductions in 2018 were supported by crystalline silicon module price declines of between 26% and 32%, between December 2017 and December 2018, after modest declines of between 1% and 7% for the 12 months from December 2016 to December 2017.

Experts attribute India’s status of lowest-cost producer of solar power to multiple reasons including high solar potential that leads to improved asset utilization and lower cost of modules sourced from China.

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