Renewable power generated by new solar and wind farms would cost less than electricity produced by most of the world's existing coal power plants, said a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)
"On average, new solar photovoltaic (PV) and onshore wind power cost less than keeping many existing coal plants in operation, and auction results show this trend accelerating – reinforcing the case to phase-out coal entirely. Next year, up to 1,200 gigawatts (GW) of existing coal capacity could cost more to operate than the cost of new utility-scale solar PV," the report said.
The report said that replacing the costliest of 500 gigawatts of coal power plants with solar and wind farms next year would reduce carbon emissions by about 1.8 gigatons, equivalent to 5 per cent of CO2 emissions in 2019. It could also reduce power system costs by up to $23 billion every year. It would also yield an investment stimulus of $940 billion, which is equal to around 1 per cent of global GDP, IRENA said.
"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," said Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA.
He added that renewables short-term policy action can be aligned with medium-and long-term energy and climate goals that will eventually lead to green recovery.
Driven by improving technologies, economies of scale, increasingly competitive supply chains and growing developer experience, costs of renewable electricity has fallen tremendously over the past decade. Since 2010, utility-scale solar PV power has shown the sharpest cost decline at 82 per cent. While concentrating solar power (CSP) has fallen by 47 per cent, onshore wind and offshore wind has fallen by 40 per cent and 29 per cent respectively.
While electricity costs from utility-scale solar PV fell 13 per cent in 2019, both onshore and offshore wind declined about 9 per cent.Also Read: Environmental Changes Are Leading To Shorter, Younger Trees: Study