Solar Energy: Becoming World’s Most Affordable Power Source

A recent report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance titled “New Energy Outlook” predicts the cost of solar energy will fall even more over the next 10 -15 years— making it one of the world’s most affordable and attractive energy sources globally.

The report, which is based on the insights and expertise of 65 country and technology specialists, shows that despite continued investment in coal and gas generation in many countries, there will be “a rapid transition toward clean power over the next 25 years.”

Solar Costs Continue to Drop & Deliver Inexpensive Energy

This is due to huge growth in the output and capability of solar technology worldwide,which will continue to create major reductions in the cost of solar power generation. So if you’re still not quite “sold” on the falling costs of solar, here are some interesting statistics from the Bloomberg report to think about:

  • The cost of generating electricity per mwh for solar photovoltaics is expected to fall 60 percent from $74-$220/mwh today to around $40/mwh worldwide in 2040, making it one of the best alternatives to fossil fuels and coal.
  • As a result of declining solar costs, sometime around 2027, it will actually cost less to use solar and wind than to run existing coal and gas generators.
  • Solar will account for 43 percent of the new power generating capacity that will be added between 2016 and 2040.
  •  U.S. renewable energy plants from wind, solar, hydro, and others will increase from 14 percent in 2015 to 44 percent in 2040.
  • $3.4 trillion will be invested in utility-scale, rooftop, and other small-scale solar.

As countries around the world add more solar and wind capacity, the energy generated is forecast to rise nine fold to 10.591Twh by 2040, and to 30 percent of the global total.

In addition to these figures, some of the biggest factors that are currently driving down the cost of solar include lower installation costs (which have decreased 50 percent since 2009), improved project performance, utility solar power purchase agreements (which have fallen to new lows), and an increased demand for solar projects.

The Bloomberg report is not alone in delivering a promising verdict on the cost of solar power. A 2015 report from Agora Energiewende, a German-based think tank, predicts solar will become the cheapest source of electricity in 10 years, and that in many parts of the world, “solar energy plants will deliver the most inexpensive power available.”

Top Solar Countries

According to the International Energy Agency’s “Trends in Photovoltaic Applications report”, the top 10 countries in the world that are currently producing the most raw power from solar include:

(By megawatts)

  • Germany – 38,250
  • China – 28,330
  • Japan – 23,409
  • Italy – 18,622
  • United States – 18,317
  • France – 5,678
  • Spain – 5,376
  • Australia – 4,130
  • Belgium – 3,156
  • South Korea – 2,398

Although the current numbers may seem tame in contrast to the optimistic figures of the Bloomberg report, the solar industry seems to be one of consistently pleasant surprises.

“Solar energy has become cheaper much more quickly than most experts had predicted and will continue to do so,” says Dr. Patrick Graichen, director of Agora Energiewende. If statements like this are any indication as to the future of solar power, even the best predictions will likely fall short of reality where solar is concerned- a “bright” future indeed.


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Renewable Energy Creative Director, Content Manager & Freelance Writer.

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