The Strategist

Clean energy investors say projects are getting more expensive

12/20/2021 - 08:16

Investors in wind and solar power believe that rising costs have made sustainable energy projects less profitable. The cost of switching to clean energy is rising due to commodities market inflation, and investors are looking for higher returns by exploring beyond the already mature renewable energy business.

For the first time in years, energy companies have to spend more on solar and wind farms due to inflation and supply chain concerns. According to The Wall Street Journal, which cited investment business officials, the financial cost of the energy transition away from fossil fuels has increased.

Because they rely on commodities like silicon and copper, clean energy projects are vulnerable to commodity price inflation. Wholesale costs for solar panels in Europe surged 19 percent in 2021 hitting end-2018 levels, according to Martin Schachinger, general director of pvXchange Trading. Meanwhile, prices are still approximately a third lower than they were five years ago.

According to Eyal Podhorzer, executive director of Econergy Renewable Energy in Israel, solar panel prices have grown to 28 euro cents per kilowatt from a low of 18 euro cents a year and a half ago. Transportation issues and supply constraints, he expects, will keep prices high for the next 18 months. Podhorzer believes that the cost of solar project permits in Italy has increased to €200,000-300,000, up from €100,000 a year ago. Because there aren't enough projects to fulfill investor demand, the price of ready-to-build solar projects in Europe has doubled in the last year. Econergy has halted certain projects in the United Kingdom due to rising equipment costs, but there are still many more.