Monday, February 4, 2013

Thin-Film Solar Energy Is Now Cheaper Than Coal Power

First Solar, Inc. is an American thin film solar panels manufacturer founded in 1990. The company manufactures cadmium telluride (CdTe)-based solar panels and in July 2011, they achieved 17.3% efficiency.

Recently, First Solar has proposed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) to El Paso Electric Company to build a 50 MW CdTe solar power plant in New Mexico, USA. The name of the power plant is Macho Springs Solar Park. The electricity generated will be sold to El Paso Electric Company for 5.8 US cents (about Malaysia Ringgit 20 cents) per kWh. The PPA is expected to be signed by June this year and the plant is expected to be completed in 2014.

The electricity selling price of the Macho Spring Solar Park is less than half the average price of electricity produced by new coal-fired power stations (12.8 US cents per kWh) in USA and significantly less than the typical price of thin film generated electricity (16.3 cents per kWh).

The 5.8 US cents per kWh price indeed has triggered a lot of speculations whether the generation cost of solar energy has really dropped below grid-parity. More detail about this PPA is yet to be revealed by First Solar and El Paso.

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