The World Just Set a Record For the Cheapest Solar Farm

A solar plant in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
A solar plant in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Photo: AP

All might feel awful in the world—and for the most part, it is—but there are still glimmers of hope. Today, that hope comes in the form of cheap-ass solar energy.

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Abu Dhabi Power Corporation, the public utility for the capital of the United Arab Emirates, announced Tuesday it had accepted a bid to build what will be both the cheapest and largest solar plant on the planet. The utility is planning to build the Al Dhafra Solar PV project by mid-2022. And it’s planning to work with a group of bidders that include a pair of French and Chinese companies to do it at a record low cost of 1.35 cents per kilowatt-hour. Through this project, the country will be able to power roughly 160,000 households with clean and affordable energy.

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Clean energy has been suffering amid the coronavirus pandemic. In the U.S., at least 106,000 people have lost their jobs in the sector—which includes energy efficiency, renewable energy, and electric vehicles—since of the economic downturn began. But this is a welcome bit of good news and could help renewables build momentum, especially after the pandemic passes. Last year, renewables were on the come up, making up 72 percent of all new electricity capacity added.

This latest record-low cost only helps build a case for more renewables. The situation in Abu Dhabi is somewhat unique, though.

As Greentech Media reports, this low price has a lot to do with the region’s abundance of sunshine, large pieces of flat, cheap land. But records keep getting broken in recent years as the price of solar panels gets cheaper and they become more efficient (don’t listen to Michael Moore’s new, badly outdated film).

Wind and solar have become the cheapest forms of energy in most of the world as fossil fuels fall off and are beset by a slumping market in the face of the pandemic. Renewables equipment equipment costs less, and governments are finally doing what they must to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets.

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The news can suck these days, but at least here’s a little something to celebrate. After the chaos of the coronavirus passes, we’ll still have the climate crisis. And we’ll need a lot more cheap solar if we’re going to deal with it.

Yessenia Funes is climate editor at Atmos Magazine. She loves Earther forever.

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DISCUSSION

therealjoepatroni
Joe Patroni

What do these solar plants do at night? Do they have battery banks and/or ways to store excess power generated during the day?

I’ve seen a few videos on potential solutions for this, but wondering what’s in use today?