LevelTen: solar PPA prices demonstrate ‘increased stability’ in Q1 2024, falling 1.5% – PV Tech

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In the fourth quarter of 2023, for instance, the average price of a solar PPA signed in North America reached US$52.69/MWh, the highest on record, and the second consecutive quarter in which solar PPA price had increased by around 4% quarter-on-quarter.

Much of this stability was driven by declines in solar PPA prices in the US, with the average price of a solar PPA in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) market falling by 1.6%, the second consecutive quarter in which such prices fell, and the price of solar PPAs signed in the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) market falling by 12.7%.

Conversely, within the Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO) grid in Canada, solar PPA prices increased by 7.2% quarter-on-quarter, driven by the end of a moratorium on new renewable energy projects with a capacity greater than 1MW in the province. Yet this was not enough to eliminate the decline in prices driven by the US states.

“A lower natural gas price from the mild winter and abundant solar panels, combined with hopes of lower interest rates, allowed some developers to offer slightly lower prices this quarter,” said Sam Mumford, analyst, energy modelling, at LevelTen Energy. “We don’t expect this window of opportunity to last indefinitely.”

“Demand is increasing rapidly from AI and the electrification of everything, and more corporations are entering the PPA buyer pool as 2030 sustainability deadlines approach,” added Mumford, suggesting that this stability may not last. “Trade restrictions could impact pricing soon as President Biden’s two-year tariff moratorium on PV components shipped from certain Southeast Asian countries ends in June.”

Mumford also argued that “smart buyers will act now,” suggesting that the stability of solar PPA prices has created an opportunity for those keen to buy electricity generated from solar sources. There is considerable interest in clean energy investments around the world – with Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) reporting that US$1.8 trillion was invested into the energy transition in 2023 – and the stabilisation of PPA prices could make energy trading a more attractive proposition for investors.

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