It’s no secret that the world is making the slow but sure shift away from coal power toward cleaner energies.
Many countries are taking baby steps to get there, supplementing coal-capacity reduction with slightly cleaner natural gas supply.
However, we’ve just got word that one of the world’s largest energy markets may be able to skip this step.
According to an analyst for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis Tim Buckley, India has made solar energy cheaper than coal power for the first time ever.
At Rs 2.44 (about $0.037) per kilowatt hour, solar energy now costs less than about 92% of the country’s coal power, which stands at an average Rs 3.20 (about $0.056).
Total, India’s solar capacity is expected to hit 8.8 gigawatts by the end of this year, making the country the third-largest solar market in the world.
Ernst & Young points out that India is fast growing into the second largest market for renewable energy overall.
The 25% drop in energy tariffs brought the price of solar down so low that the country also recently canceled projects totaling 13.7 gigawatts of new coal capacity.
But despite the hype, this may have been a little premature…
You see, the energy produced by these panels may indeed have hit a new low in India, but the cost to build those solar panels will be going up to make up for it. The Indian Government, it’s been reported, will tax new solar cells as much as 18%, more than triple the 5% tax on coal.
The problem is actually competition. As new opportunities for solar projects open up, competitors underbid each other so much that they’re making little to no profit on the project from the start.
Which means solar really is cheaper than coal… except where it’s not.
Clearly the country isn’t entirely free from its reliance on the vilified fossil fuel.
Still, the renewed interest in renewable energies is definitely a step in the right direction.
Coal’s time is done; it’s been on the decline for years, and while global demand may still be rising, it’s losing market share in even the most devout countries.
India is just one example of a country taking the next step into cleaner energy production. China and Saudi Arabia, two of the most coal- and oil-centric countries, are two other notable names on that list.
To continue reading about India’s achievements with solar, click here to read the Quartz article.