The purpose of this post is to track the top ten lowest priced solar power plants globally. Here they are, as of May 18, 2020:
- 1.35¢/kWh – Abu Dhabi, 1.5 GW, announced April 2020
- 1.50¢/kWh – New Mexico, USA, 100 MW, announced May 2020
- 1.57¢/kWh – Qatar, 800 MW, announced January 2020
- 1.61¢/kWh – Saudi Arabia, 300 MW, announced April 2020
- 1.65¢/kWh – Portugal, 150 MW, announced July 2019
- 1.69¢/kWh – Dubai, 900 MW, announced December 2019
- 1.75¢/kWh – Brazil, 211 MW, announced July 2019
- 1.97¢/kWh – Mexico, 62 MW, announced November 2017
- 1.99¢/kWh – Los Angeles, 700 MW, announced June 2019
- 2.34¢/kWh – Saudi Arabia, 300 MW, announced February 2018
- 2.52¢/kWh – Ethiopia, 125 MW, announced September 2019
- Lowest price in Africa
- 2.175¢/kWh – Idaho, 120 MW, announced March 2019
- Not included in top ten because escalator makes it more expensive
- 2.7¢/kWh – Uzbekistan, 100 MW, announced October 2019
- 2.7¢/kWh – Colombia, 2.2 GW, announced October 2019
- And the most important special mention: India
- Current lowest price 3.3¢/kWh – Rajasthan, 250 MW, announced March 2019
The whole world has seen solar power pricing come down precipitously. The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and International Renewable Energy Agency published these wonderful images to help visualize bids and deals signed in the USA and globally. And while both are behind the above list by a bit, it gives a clear projection about how things have moved over time.
Each of the bids has something unique driving their super low pricing. The Middle Eastern states have some of the world’s best sunshine, and uniquely close relationships – they’re the same party essentially – between the power companies and the hosting nation, but no ‘official’ incentives. The United States offers a tax credit and strong financial depreciation benefits. The projects in Brazil and Portugal only sell some of their electricity into the power purchase agreement, while the rest is being sold into the open market.
All of these price are remarkable, but India is still the cheapest place to build solar power. India offers no incentives, no green credit, and no special relationships, just pure price.
This low build price would generally be assumed to lead to the cheapest pure electricity costs, but there’s an obvious disconnect. Other variables at play include land costs, sunlight resources, interconnection and power grid costs, price of competitive electricity, government incentives, cost of money, etc. But when it comes to throwing down modules, racking, and inverters–India leads.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s Jenny Chase suggests that the true lowest record price was the Portugal project:
IMO the record low bid in a solar auction for price to be paid is still in Portugal, with a project at 14.76 euros per MWh for 15 years.
This secures the valuable grid connection, and the developer hopes to hit paydirt in years 16-??
— Jenny Chase (@solar_chase) April 30, 2020