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Clean Power solar grid parity map

Published on May 26th, 2013 | by Giles Parkinson

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Solar Grid Parity In 102 Countries (Map)

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This article was originally published on RenewEconomy.

Here’s an interesting graph used by Suntech’s Stuart Wenham (sourced from Applied Materials) during a presentation at the Solar 2013 conference in Melbourne on Thursday. It highlights the extent of “grid parity” for solar PV across the world – it is now in 102 countries.

This definition of “grid parity” is the cost of rooftop solar versus the cost of electricity sourced from the grid – this is sometimes known as “socket parity.” Most of the countries – though not all – are those with good solar resources and relatively high electricity prices. Australia reached “socket parity” several years ago.

Wenham says that solar PV will fall a further 50% in costs up to 2020 – see our story today. He says that solar PV at a utility level will also challenge fossil fuels – as it already does in those with high gas and diesel costs, and will offer the cheapest avenue to countries which have little electricity infrastructure.

solar grid parity map






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About the Author

is the founding editor of RenewEconomy.com.au, an Australian-based website that provides news and analysis on cleantech, carbon, and climate issues. Giles is based in Sydney and is watching the (slow, but quickening) transformation of Australia's energy grid with great interest.



  • Math Geurts

    One should make a clear difference between “grid parity” and “socket parity”. In some countries the socket price is artificially much higher than the grid rate

    • Bob_Wallace

      “This definition of “grid parity” is the cost of rooftop solar versus the cost of electricity sourced from the grid – this is sometimes known as “socket parity.””

      There are at least three types of grid parity that I can think of, perhaps four.

      1. Average wholesale electricity cost.
      2. Peak hour wholesale electricity cost.
      3. Average retail electricity cost.
      4. Highest tier or time of use retail electricity cost.

      How are you using “socket price”?

      • Math Geurts

        In many European countries a retail consumer has to pay surcharges above the average cost to pay to the supplier. In the Netherlands p.e. the rate is 7-8 Eurocent per kWh, the specific tax related to use of electricity is 14 Eurocent per kWh. Grid parity = 8 cents. Socket parity = 22 cents. Avoided tax has to considered as subsidy.

        see also: (for Germany, in German)
        http://www.arrhenius.de/uploads/media/arrhenius_DP_10_PV_GridParity_18032013.pdf

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  • mds

    Grid parity in 102 countries is great news. Shows current transition from select subsidized markets to non-subsidized world market. It would be nice to see a more accurate map.

  • vetxcl

    Costs seem to drop as the color changes to red on the bar graph. So then why place the red dot to the right next to the blue part of the graph and label it ‘grid parity’. Seems red dots indicate grid parity on the vague, small scale map, BUT the red dot is next to the bar graph’s BLUE section.

    Also, only ONE red dot indicating parity for Oz but several for the US. The article touts Australia reached grid parity. The map then INFERS the US has broken up into three countries, as there’s three dots there.

    MISleading.

  • James Wimberley

    This isn’t a high-quality source. Applied Materials don’t list or document the map on their website. More, they are makers of solar manufacturing equipment, so they don’t have any field presence in most of the countries listed. Can you really get solar electricity for 5c./kwh in Sudan? I’d be surprised if you could buy panels and inverters at all.

    In 2010 two researchers for now defunct Q-cells published a good paper on the advent of grid parity. They explicitly applied German costs to current electricity rates across the world, and generated from this a roadmap of grid parity predictions. It’s a reasonable medium-term methodology, as costs elsewhere will converge on German ones as the market grows; but they are not good short-term predictions. It looks to me as if Applied Materials have just updated this without the qualifications, giving incredible results for a swathe of developing countries.

    • Bob_Wallace

      test

      • James Wimberley

        Sure, it’s out of date, but it was a thorough piece of work, with explicit assumptions and properly sourced. It assumed a continuing fall in price, though not as steep as we’ve seen. We badly need an update of equal quality. Wenham’s map isn’t it.

        • Bob_Wallace

          There are (at least) two ways to do a solar-grid parity map.

          1) A map showing locally installed solar vs. the local price of grid electricity by country.

          2) A map which shows those countries whose price of grid electricity is greater than what electricity would be from solar installed at “best country” prices.

          I see both as valid. It should be clear what the map is showing.

          It looks to me that the Wenham map is a “type 2″ map. It uses local electricity prices, local solar levels, and a generic “lowest country price”.

          • RobS

            The simplest way is for the metric to be local Solar LCoE divided by local retail tariff. Any country at or below 1 then has reached or is better then grid parity and vice versa.

          • Bob_Wallace

            If I understand you correctly that’s #2 – above.

            Set up a spreadsheet that lists countries/current electricity price/solar hours.

            Take lowest country installed price (Australia at $1.88/watt?). Adjust the $1.88 by the relative number of solar hours.

            Count the number of countries in which calculated price > local electricity price.

          • RobS

            It’s similar, I’m just suggesting you simplify it by listing a single number, the ratio of solar LCoE to retail power tariff. For example here in Australia solar produces power for about 9c/Kwh and our average retail power is about 27c/Kwh, so we would have a ratio of 0.3. A country just reaching parity would be 1.0 and a country with little sunlight and cheap power might be 2-3 indicating solar costs 2-3 times as much as the current retail rate.

          • mds

            I disagree with you Rob. It is more meaningful to me to see both numbers. The ratio is too abstract. I can cross-relate the cost of solar power and end-of-grid cost of electricity to other countries/locations more easily. My interest is always oriented toward tracking the transition to solar and wind, how far past the tipping point they are. The ratio is a little abstract.
            How do I explain this better? I’m in the USA. If I know the Aussies are installing at an average price of $1.88/Wp to produce solar electricity at 9c/kWh, then I know we can (and soon will) achieve the same in numerous states with sufficient sun (CA, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas,..) and end-of-grid prices higher than 9c/kWh. Average in USA as about 12c/kWh at end-of-grid, but this is more like 18c/kWh average in S. CA and much higher in afternoon due to tiered pricing in some areas.
            Important fact to me: If Australia is putting solar in for 9c/kWh, then we can do the same as our solar market gets more efficient.

        • vetxcl

          Oh sure, the map is so very professionally done. (NOT)

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