IS OIL no longer the black gold that it used to be? The unthinkable is now happening. Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, is going into renewable energy. A news report says the country took the first step towards a goal of generating 9.5 GW of energy through solar and other renewable means.
Virtually all of the kingdom’s power currently comes from crude, refined oil or natural gas. But as part of the Vision 2030 economic reform plan to wean the kingdom of oil, it has set a target of 9.5 GW of renewable energy by 2023.
Is this the beginning of the end of the world’s dependence on oil, at least for power generation? The World Economic Forum (WEF) has determined that in many parts of the world, solar energy is now the same price or even cheaper than fossil fuels for the first time.
In a handbook released recently, the WEF observed how the price of renewable technologies, particularly solar, has declined to unprecedented lows. While the average global LCOE (levelized cost of electricity) for coal and natural gas is around $100 per megawatt-hour, the price for solar has plummeted from $600 a decade ago to $300 only five years later, and now close to or below $100 for utility-scale photovoltaic. For wind, the LCOE is around $50.
According to the WEF, more than 30 countries have already reached grid parity even without subsidies. ("Grid parity" is the point when an alternative energy source, say solar, can generate power at a LCOE that's equal or even less than the price of traditional grid power.)
Countries that have already reached grid parity include Chile, Mexico, Brazil and Australia with many more countries also on the same track. The WEF projects that two thirds of the world will reach grid parity in the next couple of years, and by 2020, solar photovoltaic energy is projected to have a lower LCOE than coal or natural gas-fired generation throughout the world.
The International Energy Agency revealed that total clean power capacity increased by 153 gigawatts, overtaking coal for the first time. To illustrate, about 500,000 solar panels installed were installed around the world every day.
This is good news for the environment.
As proof of the viability of solar power, local companies are now into this business. My good friend and kompadre, Jonathan Miole, has partnered with Korean Companies to form Shinyoung Philippines, a solar power supplier. One of their goals is to have a solar farm in our beloved Mabalacat City.
The partners are Shinyoung Suntech Co., Ltd which has completed several projects in South Korea and DASS Tech Company, Ltd which is based in Korea. The office of Shinyoung Philippines is in Dau, Mabalacat City.
Published in the SunStar Pampanga newspaper on May 05, 2017.
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