Wow! $0.05 per KwH! Five cents a kilabuck, amazing. The contract Austin City Council recently approved was supposed to be for 50 MW of solar generating capacity, but the price was so good, they bumped the project to 150 Mw making it tied for tenth largest in the world. Why is this happening so much faster than predicted?
The Department of Energy was looking at $0.05 to $0.07 per kWh of commercial photovoltaic energy by 2017 as recently as 2011 (link). The Energy Information Administration (EIA), as recently as their 2014 Annual Energy Outlook (link) says that natural gas in 2019 would still be half the price of solar and that includes about 10 percent subsidies for solar. The EIA also says that the average March 2014 user price for electricity in Texas was $0.09 per kWh.
What does this mean? Finally, we may see some deflation in costs of something (anything!). The EIA says the average cost of residential electricity across the nation has increased an astonishing 50 percent in the last 10 years (link). What seems to predominate the news about energy though is the plummeting cost of fracked natural gas. But residential energy costs from our nations mega energy industries only continues to rise.
AND! We have not even begun to introduce climate pollution mitigation regulations into the market.
So let’s all keep our fingers crossed that Moore’s Law continues to work for photovoltaic technologies. With the coming carbon pollution rules, alternatives will get a bonus cost leveling act that computer memory never had. We can only hope and it is no longer too aggressive to project, that in ten years solar PV prices will be far, far less than they are today.
Related news on Austin’s Solar: http://cleantechnica.com/2014/05/21/austin-energy-cheap-solar-5-cents-kwh-recurrent-energy/