Solar grid parity comes to Chile, other countries not far behind

Large-scale solar has reached grid parity with wholesale electricity prices in one South American country, and will soon do so in other countries around the world, a new European study has found.

The study, by research firm Eclareon, found that solar PV with single axis tracking was at grid parity in Chile – one of the hottest big solar markets at the moment, with its high electricity prices and excellent solar resource.

The study notes that Morocco, Italy and Mexico were also close, or had recently been close, to grid parity.

In Italy, though, the recent slump in wholesale prices has temporarily taken wholesale parity away from solar, while Mexico is also implementing a large restructure of its market.

Unlike retail parity (socket parity) for rooftop solar – which is already a reality in many countries, including Australia – wholesale parity, where the cost of solar farms can compete with the prevailing wholesale price of electricity, has been harder to achieve.

Eclareon defines large-scale solar as plant above 50MW and with single axis tracking – which is more expensive that normal flat plate installations.

The research was sponsored by the Copper Institute – an indication of the growing interest of Chile’s copper mines in using solar to reduce the high cost of diesel of grid-sourced power in that country.

Last week, the largest copper company signed a deal to take the output from a 70MW solar plant to be built in that country by SunEdison.

© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson