IRENA: Renewables are low-cost key to boost climate action

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Renewable power is the cheapest source of electricity in many parts of the world already today, the latest report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) shows. The report contributes to the international discussion on raising climate action worldwide, ahead of Abu Dhabi’s global preparatory meeting for the United Nations Climate Action Summit in September.

With prices set to fall, the cost advantage of renewables will extend further, according to Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2018. This will strengthen the business case and solidify the role of renewables as the engine of the global energy transformation.

“Renewable power is the backbone of any development that aims to be sustainable,” said IRENA’s Director-General Francesco La Camera. “We must do everything we can to accelerate renewables if we are to meet the climate objectives of the Paris Agreement.

Today’s report sends a clear signal to the international community: Renewable energy provides countries with a low-cost climate solution that allows for scaling up action. To fully harness the economic opportunity of renewables, IRENA will work closely with our members and partners to facilitate on-the-ground solutions and concerted action that will result in renewable energy projects.”

The costs for renewable energy technologies decreased to a record low last year. (Courtesy: Winchell Joshua, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

The costs for renewable energy technologies decreased to a record low last year. The global weighted-average cost of electricity from concentrating solar power (CSP) declined by 26 percent, bioenergy by 14 percent, solar photovoltaics (PV) and onshore wind by 13 percent, hydropower by 12 percent and geothermal and offshore wind by 1 percent, respectively.

Cost reductions, particularly for solar and wind power technologies, are set to continue into the next decade, the new report finds.

According to IRENA’s global database, over three-quarters of the onshore wind and four-fifths of the solar PV capacity that is due to be commissioned next year will produce power at lower prices than the cheapest new coal, oil, or natural gas options. Crucially, they are set to do so without financial assistance.

Onshore wind and solar PV costs between 3 and 4 cents per kilowatt hour are already possible in areas with good resources and enabling regulatory and institutional frameworks. For example, record-low auction prices for solar PV in Chile, Mexico, Peru, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have seen a levelized cost of electricity as low as 3 cents per kilowatt hour.

Electrification on the basis of cost-competitive renewables is the backbone of the energy transformation and a key low-cost decarbonization solution in support of the climate goals set out in the Paris Agreement.

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