For the first time, the price of solar power in Chile hit a record low of $29.10 per megawatt hour (MWh) in an energy auction last week. Spanish developer Solarpack Corp Tecnologica won the contracts, which mark a record low price for solar power on a global scale, and a rate almost half the price of coal power at the same auction. With solar technology becoming ever more affordable, places with abundant sunshine will likely see contract prices continue to fall, leading to even more low-price records.
The new low solar price in Chile beats out the previous record set in Dubai in May of this year, where the price of solar power has been steadily dropping for several years. Advances in solar panel technology have slashed manufacturing costs, translating into lower prices throughout the industry. Solarpack General Director Inigo Malo de Molina says Chile’s auction price is the lowest rate for any kind of electricity, and shows the staying power of renewable energy sources. “Solar energy technology has evolved and proved it is competitive,” he told Bloomberg. “Prices for electricity generation have changed drastically in the last years. Solar energy in Chile is now the cheapest in the market.”
Aside from the plummeting cost of equipment, renewable energy developers were inspired to make historically low bids because of the broad scope of potential of the Chilean solar farm in question. The government there plans to install new infrastructure to connect the solar power farm to the nationwide grid, which is an early indication that renewable sources could eventually edge out fossil fuels. Solarpack’s record low bid at last Wednesday’s auction was just one of many significant energy deals, as the auction was one of the largest ever held in Chile. Contracts were awarded to vendors promising to provide 12,430 gigawatt hours each year, which accounts for roughly one-third the country’s grid customers. On average, prices dropped 40 percent compared to a similar energy auction last year, suggesting that the energy industry in Chile is more competitive than ever.