Cheaper than oil. Cheaper than natural gas. Even cheaper than coal. PV solar’s dizzying price drop is continuing into the third decade of the 21st century, after declining by 90 per cent from 2010 to 2020, according to Bloomberg1.
As the tech gets cheaper, so does the electricity it generates. As an example of the trend, a study in Germany2 priced PV at €0.03 to €0.06 per kWh (USD$0.035 to $0.07 per kWh) for electricity generated by ground-mounted solar.
That compares favorably with even the newest conventional gas and coal power stations in the country. According to the researchers, these legacy technologies would be unable to generate electricity any cheaper than €0.075 per kWh ($0.088 per kWh).
Small wonder then that the global installed base of PV is expected to grow from 140GW in 2020 to 153.8GW in 20213 . But PV has one clear disadvantage over conventional, planet-killing forms of electricity generation. Simply put, the source of its energy is not available 24/7.
If the sun doesn’t shine, the electrons don’t flow, however cheap they may potentially be. Anyone who has tried to make a case for the technology knows this argument all too well.
But the solution has been well known for a long time and now it is coming into its own thanks to more vertiginous falls in cost. Lithium-ion batteries are great for mopping up excess electrons for use on a rainy day, or even a rainy night.
Their costs have reduced considerably and continue to fall on an almost monthly basis. The combination of solar and storage means you can dispatch electricity as and when it’s needed. And lithiumion battery storage works with PV at almost any scale.
Large-scale battery storage can also offer the grid several useful ancillary features, such as frequency regulation, flexible ramping and black-start services. Like PV, the technology has been around for decades. And also like PV, it’s becoming increasingly affordable.
The price of lithium-ion battery cells has declined by 97 per cent in the last three decades. To put this into perspective, a battery with a capacity of 1kWh that cost $7,500 in 1991 was just $181 in 2018. And prices are still plummeting, with the costs halving between 2014 and 2018 alone.
This year, BloombergNEF reported that “the levelised cost of energy from lithium-ion battery storage systems is competitive with many peak-demand generators”5.
The partnering of PV and lithium-ion energy storage seems like a marriage made in renewable heaven, and one that can only get stronger through the years. It’s also a partnership we’re playing a key role in nurturing.
Pacific Green has deep knowledge of solar and energy storage technologies and wide experience in project development, with a 1.1GWh pipeline of energy storage now in progress.
This sponsored editorial is brought to you by Pacific Green Technologies. For more information, visit www.pacificgreen-energystorage.com.