An International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) report out today shows clean power is cheaper than any new electricity derived from fossil fuel.
While any meaningful steps to tackle climate disruption demand an acceleration in the renewables transition, this immutable fact hasn’t been enough to inspire universal action. Money won’t protect any section of humanity from existential threats like climate disasters or pandemics, unless it is used to invest in solutions – and distributed to regions blighted by chronic underinvestment.
What the Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2019 paper from IRENA reveals is that when it comes to power costs green energy beats new coal plants. That offshore wind and new solar photovoltaic (PV) are cheaper alternatives to persisting with current coal plants. It gives the example that if 500GW of the costliest coal was replaced with onshore wind and solar PV in 2021, power system costs would be slashed by USD 23 billion annually. The positive knock-on effect for the environment being a reduction of 1.8 gigatons (Gt) of carbon dioxide (CO2) every year.
“We have reached an important turning point in the energy transition. The case for new and much of the existing coal power generation, is both environmentally and economically unjustifiable,” said Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA. “Renewable energy is increasingly the cheapest source of new electricity, offering tremendous potential to stimulate the global economy and get people back to work. Renewable investments are stable, cost-effective and attractive offering consistent and predictable returns while delivering benefits to the wider economy.”
La Camera added: “A global recovery strategy must be a green strategy. Renewables offer a way to align short-term policy action with medium- and long-term energy and climate goals. Renewables must be the backbone of national efforts to restart economies in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. With the right policies in place, falling renewable power costs, can shift markets and contribute greatly towards a green recovery.”
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