Technology, costly fossil fuels aiding grid parity

By Editor


Grid parity appears set to be a reality of the near future globally. United Arab Emirates claims to have started producing solar energy at costs equal to power it generates using oil and gas. WAM, the official news agency of UAE, has reported the development.

International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Masdar Institute and the directorate of energy and climate change under the foreign affairs ministry of UAE have jointly documented the development in the report titled ‘REmap 2030’.

The report states that the two key factors that have driven grid parity were the surge in gas prices and the fall in renewable energy generation costs.

The price of natural gas in the UAE has risen from less than $2 per million British thermal units (MBtu) in 2010 to $9-18 per MBtu in recent times.

Domestic gas production cost is approaching $8 per MBtu and the output is inadequate to limit growing import requirements, the report states.

In the meantime, solar photovoltaic module costs have dipped by about 75 percent since 2008, the report says.

The slump in oil prices set off last year has apparently had no impact on the development of clean energy.

The UAE has also seen consistent growth in other renewable energy technologies such as wind power and waste-to-energy.

Going by the prevailing conditions, the REmap report projects that achieving 25 percent share of renewables in power generation by 2030 could be cheaper to achieve than the current targets.

Different countries have been adopting different means to bring down the establishment costs of renewable energy devices.

In India, the ministry for new and renewable energy is experimenting with the option of dollar-denominated bidding for clean energy projects which would help developers avoid exchange-related risks and allow them to offer lower tariffs for renewable power.

The country is also improving conditions for development of renewable energy with the central bank making it a priority lending sector.

Renewable energy technology, too, is developing at an apparently faster rate. Most recently Aalto University researchers claimed to have developed black silicon solar cells that achieve 22.1 percent efficiency, higher than the previous record. It is a 4 percent absolute boost on the previous best in black silicon and expected to replace existing technologies.

Black silicon cells have been found to be superior to other cells in collecting sunlight at low angles, which is common in regions with cold climate. The cells are also expected to come cheaper, too, according to reports.

With companies such as Tesla coming up with battery-based technologies that can power homes independent of the power grid, renewable energy production can not only expand and diversify but also become the preferred source of energy production.

Ajith Kumar S

[email protected]

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