Renewable energy now competes on cost alone: IRENA


Renewable power generation is now competitive with, and in many situations less costly than, fossil-based and nuclear power, said the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). These findings came from its brief for COP24, the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The brief, titled Renewable Power: Climate-safe energy competes on cost alone, underlined the drastic reduction in costs of solar, wind, and other renewable power-generation sources since becoming viable commercial options in 2008.

The findings include:

  • The global weighted average costs for electricity from all renewable technologies, except Concentrated Solar Power (CSP), now fall between US$0.047 and US$0.167 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), although the costs may be higher for rural locations and islands.
  • Onshore wind now represents one of the lowest-cost sources of new power generation capacity. The global weighted average cost of electricity from onshore wind fell by 23 per cent between 2010 and 2017, to US$0.06/kWh, with some projects regularly delivering electricity for just US$0.04/kWh.
  • For solar PV, the global weighted average cost of electricity from newly commissioned utility-scale solar PV plants fell 73 per cent between 2010 and 2017, to US$ 0.10/kWh.
  • More mature renewable power generation technologies remain relevant. For plants commissioned in 2017, the global weighted average cost of electricity from bioenergy was US$0.07/kWh, from hydropower US$0.05/kWh and from geothermal US$0.07/kWh.
  • Electrical storage technologies, such as batteries, will be crucial, with the total storage capacity potentially tripling by 2030, from 4.67 terawatt-hours (TWh) in 2017 to 12-15 TWh by 2030.

IRENA expects further cost reductions to continue through 2020 and beyond.

With these developments, IRENA asserts that the chief driver of renewable energy deployment is a strong and steadily improving business case. This will be even more salient as the world shifts towards a global energy system powered by renewable sources.

For the full brief, click here.


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