Commercial solar hits grid parity in Germany, Italy, and Spain

BusinessGreen staff

Study finds low installation costs are enabling solar PV to compete on price with grid electricity

The cost of electricity from solar panels has reach parity with grid electricity in Germany, Italy, and Spain, new analysis has revealed.

The PV Grid Parity Monitor carried out by consulting firm Eclareon and sponsored by SunEdison, BayWa, and Gesternova, finds that the levelised cost of energy (LCOE) of solar PV became competitive with retail electricity prices in the commercial segment of those territories over 2013.

According to the research, the LCOE of solar in the commercial sector decreased in the second half of 2013 across all seven of the countries it studied: Brazil, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, and Spain.

However, the study says poor-regulation could hinder the market - particularly in Spain, which had introduced a fee on on-site self-consumption and allows for no compensation for the excess PV generation fed into the grid.

And in spite of the improvements, high installation costs are preventing solar PV from reaching grid parity in some Latin American countries.

David Pérez, partner at Eclareon in charge of the study, said: "In countries such as Italy and Germany, both at grid parity and with proper regulation, PV systems for self-consumption represent a viable, cost-effective, and sustainable power generation alternative."

In related news, First Solar has partnered with General Electric's Power Conversion business to develop a "more cost effective and productive" utility-scale solar PV power plant design.

The two companies announced earlier this week that by combining First Solar's thin-film CdTe modules with GE's new ProSolar 1500 Volt inverter/transformer system they could increase the size of the solar array served by each inverter and shrink the number of invertors needed.

This should increase the efficiency and reduce the installation and maintenance costs of future PV power plants, offering a better rate of return for investors and potentially accelerating the take up of solar energy technology.

Mahesh Morjaria, First Solar's vice president of product management, said the company has already identified projects currently under construction for initial deployment of the 1500 system.

"This is a significant step in establishing the next generation of utility-scale PV power plants," he added. "Partnering with an industry giant such as GE, we are able to take our power plant design to the next level, and bring additional value to our customers."

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