D.C.-based agency invests $38 million to increase energy access in sub-Saharan Africa

The Washington D.C.-based U.S. Agency for International Development recently announced more than $38 million in investments that are being designated to help end poverty through increasing access to food and energy in developing countries throughout the world.

Read more: D.C.-based agency invests $38 million to increase energy access in sub-Saharan Africa

Report: Solar cost could drop up to 59 percent by 2025

Costs for electricity converted from solar and wind energy could drop as much as 59 percent by 2025, according to a report recently published by the International Renewable Energy Agency.

In the report, which is titled “The Power to Change: Solar and Wind Cost Reduction Potential to 2025,” the agency estimated that the cost of electricity produced by solar and wind technologies will decrease between 26 and 59 percent -- 59 percent for solar photovoltaics, 35 percent for offshore wind and 26 percent for onshore wind -- over the next nine years.

Electricity prices for concentrated solar power are also expected to decrease as much as 43 percent (depending on the technology) by 2025, with the global average expected to reach between 5 and 6 U.S. cents per kilowatt-hour, according to the report.

“We have already seen dramatic cost decreases in solar and wind in recent years and this report shows that prices will continue to drop, thanks to different technology and market drivers,” Adnan Amin, director general for the International Renewable Energy Agency, said in a news release announcing the report’s publication. “Given that solar and wind are already the cheapest source of new generation capacity in many markets around the world, this further cost reduction will broaden that trend and strengthen the compelling business case to switch from fossil fuels to renewables.”

The Agency also reported that the prices for solar photovoltaics and wind turbines have fallen nearly 80 percent since 2009, and that those prices have consistently dropped 20 percent with every doubling of cumulative installed capacity.

The full report is available at irena.org.

Report: U.S. solar market on track for record-breaking year

The growth of the solar industry outpaced that of coal, natural gas and nuclear power during the first quarter of 2016, according to a recent report by the Solar Energy Industries Association (in partnership with GTM Research).

During Q1 of 2016, 1,665 megawatts of solar photovoltaics were installed across the United States,which accounted for 64-percent of all new electric generating capacity brought online during the first quarter, according to SEIA’s “U.S. Solar Market Insight, Q2 2016.”

“This growth builds off the momentum of a record 2015, in which solar exceeded natural gas capacity additions on an annual basis for the first time ever,” according to a SEIA news release published June 9. “The report also says that this year the solar industry will install an unprecedented 14.5 gigawatts (GW) of capacity, a 94 percent jump over the 7.5 GW in capacity installed in 2015. This growth cements solar energy’s role as a mainstay in America’s portfolio of electricity sources.”

The first three months of 2016 marked the 10th consecutive quarter in which more than one gigawatt of photovoltaics were installed in the U.S. and the 12th consecutive quarter in which more than 500 megawatts of utility-scale photovoltaics were installed, according to the report. The report also found that there are now more than 1 million operating solar photovoltaic installations in the United States -- a total of 27.5 gigawatts of operating capacity.

“While it took us 40 years to hit 1 million U.S. solar installations, we’re expected to hit 2 million within the next two years,” Tom Kimbis, SEIA’s interim president, said in the news release. “The solar industry is growing at warp speed, driven by the fact that solar is one of the lowest cost options for electricity and it’s being embraced by people who both care about the environment and want access to affordable and reliable electricity.”

Looking ahead, the report’s findings suggest that utility photovoltaics are expected to drive demand with non-residential systems continuing to push U.S. capacity upward.
“Over the past six months, the non-residential PV segment has shown glimpses of a market that can grow across a more diverse set of project development opportunities,” Cory Honeyman, GTM Research’s associate director of U.S. Solar, said in the release. “While a number of policy- and customer-driven bottlenecks continue to challenge the market, a handful of state policies established over the past half year should unlock new customer-sited and offsite development, with Fortune 500 corporate customers playing a key role in supporting the market’s rebound.”

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