Solar costs have fallen globally: What it could mean for energy bills

By Ceyda Erem ·

One common roadblock around renewable energy is price, whether that’s installing solar panels or investing in large-scale projects.

But recent figures from the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) show that over the last ten years solar photovoltaic (PV) costs have fallen by a massive 82%. 

“New projects to produce energy from renewable sources are less and less expensive today compared to existing coal-fired power plants,” it said in its report, Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2019. 

“On average, it’s cheaper to commission new PV and wind power facilities than to keep many coal-fired plants in operation.”

According to the report, the price fall was a result of improved technology, supply chain competitiveness and the growing experience of the industry’s developers. 

All these factors also meant that solar capacity could reach new heights, climbing from 40GW to 580GW within the last decade. 

Is coal power on the way out? 

Depending on the region, residential solar costs fell between 47% - 80% between 2010 and 2019, while the average cost of electricity from large-scale solar dropped by 78% in Australia specifically. 

Large-scale solar also dipped below $1,000 per kilowatt installed for the first time in 2019, 79% cheaper than what renewable energy projects cost a decade ago. 

Irena says that these positive figures could even lead to the downfall of coal, as renewable power stations become the affordable alternative. 

“Next year, it could be more expensive to operate 1,200 GW of existing capacity in coal-fired power plants than putting new solar photovoltaic installations into service on an industrial scale.” 

What renewable energy can do for energy bills 

From July 1, households in the ACT are set to enjoy a 2.56% decrease in their electricity bills, after the territory successfully hit its 100% renewable energy target (RET). 

It’s said that the falling wholesale electricity costs were a result of the territory’s commitment to renewables, plus the decline in renewable energy certificates costs.  

“The decrease is especially timely, as businesses and households face extra pressures due to the COVID-19 crisis. It is important that essential services like energy remain affordable, and that people have equitable access,” said ACT minister for climate change, Shane Rattenbury. 

So if you’re ready to give your energy usage a renewable upgrade, enter your postcode below to start comparing green energy plans in your area.

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Ceyda Erem
Ceyda Erem
Money writer

Ceyda Erem is Mozo’s authority on Energy, as well as having broader expertise as a personal finance writer. She loves to put her researching and writing talents into stories that help our readers to make more informed financial choices, whether that’s about finding the best energy deal or writing about the latest sneaky bank tricks. Ceyda has a Bachelor of Arts (major in writing) from Macquarie University.