IRENA: Global solar months away from sweeping grid parity

India, Italy and China were the world's most cost-competitive PV markets last year, according to IRENA (Credit: IRENA)

Cheaper modules are setting the scene for grid parity to become the norm for the global solar industry as early as next year, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

The body reviewed thousands of renewable projects and PPAs and found 83% of the utility-scale PV pipeline commissioned for 2020 will boast prices lower than the cheapest fossil-fuel alternatives.

At US$0.048/kWh, the utility-scale PV costs now expected next year – down from IRENA’s initial predictions of US$0.055/kWh – will see the industry outcompete 700GW of operational coal-fired plants worldwide.

The findings, IRENA said, show solar PV can together with wind and CSP become the “competitive backbone” of the energy transition. The global community has now received a “clear signal” that low-cost clean energy is a scalable solution, director-general Francesco La Camara said. 

India and Italy cheapest, Canada and Russia priciest

IRENA’s review charted the major cost declines across key PV markets all the way to 2018, a year when the industry represented 55% (94GW of 171GW) of all renewable installations.

The greatest cost drops between 2010 and 2018 were witnessed with Indian (80%) and Italian (78%) utility-scale projects. This helped the Asian and European state top G20 competitiveness charts last year, with costs of US$793/kW and US$870/kW.

China (US$879/kW), France (US$1,074/kW) and Germany (US$1,113/kW) followed suit, while the UK, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, the US and Australia proved slightly pricier, producing utility-scale PV costs in the US$1,300/kW-US$1,550/kW range.

By far the most expensive G20 utility-scale PV hosts were, however, Canada (US$2,427/kW), the Russian Federation (US$2,302/kW) and Japan (US$2,101/kW). All three faced higher module, installation and margin costs than was the norm elsewhere.

Module price declines ramp up last year

Cheaper modules were, IRENA found, a core driver of across-the-board PV cost reductions. Prices of crystalline silicon modules, in particular, declined much faster between December 2017 and December 2018 (26-32%) than they had in the earlier 12 months (1-7%).

As of December 2018, IRENA said, benchmark module prices differed between low-cost makers (US$216/kW) and their mainstream (US$306/kW), high-efficiency (US$400/kW) and ‘all-black’ (US$420/kW) counterparts.

The findings around cost-competitive manufacturers come after many from China and elsewhere showcased their products at this year’s Intersolar. Some, Jetion Solar included, are positioning themselves to secure a slice of a fast-reviving European PV market.  

See here for the full version of IRENA's renewable cost update

15 September 2022
Bifacial PV modules will be the dominant solar PV technology globally within one or two years; in the utility-scale sector, their market share is already above 70%. This webinar will provide a clear view on the successful implementation of bifacial technology, maximizing system performance and minimising LCoE.

Read Next

August 12, 2022
REC Solar and its parent company, Reliance Industries, have ramped up recruitment of staff for its India solar manufacturing plant.
August 12, 2022
Yingkou Jinchen Machinery has an agreement with Indian module maker Waaree to supply it with a 2.5GW high-efficiency module production line
August 11, 2022
The financial adversity of India’s struggling distribution companies (Discoms) has been reflected in a significant downgrading in the latest rankings by the Ministry of Power, giving yet more concern for renewable energy players
August 10, 2022
Canadian Solar plans to build an integrated PV manufacturing plant in Western China, with a capacity of 200,000MT of high-purity polysilicon, 10GW of both cells and modules and multi-GW productions of raw and auxiliary materials.
August 8, 2022
Renewables developer and sustainability services provider Enfinity Global has secured ¥29 billion (US$242 million) in long-term financing for three recently completed utility-scale solar plants in Japan totalling 70MW.
August 8, 2022
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which includes US$369 billion in energy security and climate change programmes over the next ten years, passed in the US Senate on Sunday, paving the way for its movement to the House of Representatives and subsequent signing by President Joe Biden.

Subscribe to Newsletter

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Webinars
September 7, 2022
15:30 AEST (UTC +10)
Solar Media Events
September 14, 2022
Solar Media Events
October 4, 2022
New York, USA
Solar Media Events
October 11, 2022
Virtual event