The record low prices for renewable energy continue to fall both in Australia and overseas.
Days after Origin and Goldwind set a new low for Australian wind prices (about $55/MWh for the 530MW Stockyard Hill wind project in Victoria), a new low has been set in the Indian solar market, a development with major implications for Australian thermal coal exports.
It was reported overnight in India that Phelan Energy Group and Avaada Power secured 50MW and 100MW solar mandates respectively at the new record low price of 2.62 rupees per unit, while SBG Cleantech – a joint venture between SoftBank, Bharti Enterprises and Foxconn – obtained 100MW at Rs 2.63 a unit.
That price equates to a price of $US40/MWh ($A55/MWh) – not a world record low, but a record low for India, where prices have fallen 12 per cent in just three months since the last tender obtained a price of Rs2.97/unit in February – itself a 32 per cent fall on the previous record low.
The significance was not lost on India energy minister Piyush Goyal.
Like the extraordinary bidding in Abu Dhabi for a major solar project, the recent Indian tenders have defied skeptics. Ever since early prices were dismissed by some analysts as unsustainably low, the solar price in Dubai has more than halved to $US26/MWh while the India price has fallen by nearly 50 per cent.
“Amazing technology innovation coupled with economies of scale are driving renewable energy costs down way faster than anyone thought possible,” says Tim Buckley, director of energy finance studies at IEEFA in Sydney.
“Solar is now cheaper than existing domestic Indian coal power,” he notes. Even the previous benchmark was lower than the cost of generation from imported coal. Little wonder that Goyal predicts thermal coal imports to fall to zero within a few years.