According to a report just published by the International Renewable Energy Agency, the cost-competitiveness of renewable power generation technologies has reached historic levels. Biomass for power, hydropower, geothermal and onshore wind can all now provide electricity competitively compared to fossil fuel-fired power generation. IRENA research finds:
- Installed costs for onshore wind power, solar PV and concentrating solar power (CSP) have continued to fall, while their performance has improved.
- Solar PV module prices in 2014 were around 75% lower than their levels at the end of 2009.
- Between 2010 and 2014 the total installed costs of utility-scale PV systems have fallen by 29% to 65%, depending on the region.
- The most competitive utility-scale solar PV projects are now regularly delivering electricity for just $0.08 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) without financial support, compared to a range of $0.045 to $0.14/kWh for fossil fuel power plants. Where excellent resources and low-cost finance are available, utility-scale solar PV can deliver electricity as low as 0.06/kWh
- Onshore wind is now one of the most competitive sources of electricity available. Technology improvements, occurring at the same time as installed costs have continued to decline, mean that onshore wind is now within the same cost range, or even lower, than for fossil fuels. The best wind projects around the world are consistently delivering electricity for $0.05/kWh without financial support.
- Where untapped economic resources remain, biomass for power, geothermal and hydropower can provide some of the cheapest electricity of any source.
IRENA, an international agency dedicated to renewable energy, arose out of the 1981 United Nations Conference on New and Renewable Sources of Energy. Currently, IRENA has 139 member countries and more than 35 countries have started the formal process of becoming Members. Canada is not a member.
The full 149 page report, Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2014, and an executive summary are available at http://www.irena.org/menu/index.aspx?mnu=Subcat&PriMenuID=36&CatID=141&SubcatID=494
All amounts given in this article are in USD.