Solar Could be as Cheap as Coal by 2015, Chinese Report Says


Photo Credit: Andreas Demmelbauer via Flickr/CC BY

If the government-linked reports are to be believed, then China's all set to double its solar capacity by the end of the year -- up to 2 Gigawatts, in fact. That was (somewhat) surprising news alone. But the solar industry is pointing out that buried in the same report was a projection that solar power will be as cheap as -- or cheaper than -- coal in less than five years.Reuters reports on the part of the study that has the solar world talking:

The solar feed-in tariff, the price of solar-generated electricity, could drop below 0.80 yuan (12.5 cents) for each kilowatt-hour (kWh) by 2015, which would be on par with conventional coal-fired power tariffs by that time, according to s report by the Energy Research Institute, led by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

The optimistic finding has the solar industry buzzing. This morning, the Solar Trade Association sent out a notice stating harping on the Chinese report. Its chairman, Howard Johns, said in a statement that the "news that Chinese researchers anticipate solar could be as cheap as coal power by 2015 follows many reports this year predicting solar is set to achieve a major cost breakthrough with sustained investment today."

The finding is pretty consistent with other reports that predict solar will hit parity with coal by the end of the decade.

STA used the news to urge the UK to move faster in adopting solar. Johns noted that, "Clearly some people in China believe solar could be cheaper than coal by the end of this Parliament. This is not a technology anyone can afford to ignore, particularly given the UK does have some major manufacturing opportunities. Solar technology has the potential to readily generate 30% of the UK's electricity needs, and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs."

More on China, Coal, and Solar Power
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China's Feed-In Tariff to Boost Solar Capacity 10-Fold in 5 Years

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