Just one month ago, the world of renewable energy was stunned when Solarpak Corp Technologica submitted a bid to provide electricity from solar panels in Chile for less than 3 cents per kilowatt. But before the buzz could die down, a consortium composed of Chinese PV manufacturer JinkoSolar and Japanese conglomerate Marubeni Corporation has shattered that mark by a whopping 17%.

It submitted the lowest bid to the Abu Dhabi Water & Elritricity Authority to supply 350 megawatts of power.at just 2.42 cents per kilowatt. As part of the bid, the group said it would provide 1,170 megawatts of power for a mere 2.3 cents per kilowatt if ADWEA was interested in a larger solar power system. The winning bid was reported by PV Magazine. By comparison, the average wholesale cost of electricity in the United States is between 5 and 6 cents per kilowatt.

The solar facility will be built in the town of Swaihan, which is northwest of Abu Dhabi. A new settlement is being built in the region and it is need of quick, affordable electricity. Understanding that solar could be the cheapest option, ADWEA invited bids for a 350 MW, but allowed bidders to increase the size of the development.

The bidding process is over but the result have not been confirmed, pending a due diligence review by ADWEA. The other bidders were Masdar 0.02533, Tenaga/Phelan Energy 0.02598, RWE/B-Electric 0.02919, JGC/First Solar/Sojitz 0.03088, and Kepco/Q CELLS/GSE 0.03635.

For those wondering why solar power projects are going up in a region of the world where petroleum supplies are abundant, the answer is simply — cost. If solar power is cheaper, that’s what is going to be built. That is a valuable lesson for people who would like to see the trend toward a zero emissions economy accelerate.

At present, fossil fuel interests receive massive direct and indirect subsidies from federal, state, and local governments around the world. The International Monetary Fund estimates those subsidies total $5 trillion a year. And yet, the fossil fuel industry continues to insist that renewables are not competitive with fossil fuels. Baloney. If oil, gas, and coal were required to bear the full cost of their impact on society, they would cost far more than renewables.

Only the assessment of a carbon fee can bring about a level playing field between renewable energy and traditional energy companies. Support carbon pricing market adjustments if you want to see renewables continue to grow and emissions from fossil fuels continue to shrink.