Falling renewable energy costs are a boost for global climate action, Irena says

Cost reductions, particularly for solar and wind power technologies, are set to continue into the next decade, Irena says in a new report

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 17, 2008 wind turbines are pictured near Kisielice, Poland.  After a few years of crisis, due to prohibitive legislation, the Polish wind energy sector is facing new development prospects. / AFP / Janek SKARZYNSKI / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Michel VIATTEAU
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Renewable power has already become the cheapest source of electricity in many parts of the world and with prices set to continue declining the cost advantage of renewables will extend further.

Lower cost of production and cheaper rates of power will strengthen the business case and solidify the role of renewables as the engine of the global energy transformation, the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) said in its latest report.

The study released on Wednesday, ahead of Abu Dhabi’s global preparatory meeting for the United Nations Climate Action Summit in September, contributes to the international discussion on raising climate action worldwide, Irena said in a statement.

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

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

More than three-quarters of the onshore wind and four-fifths of the solar PV capacity that is due to be commissioned in 2020 will produce power at lower prices than the cheapest new coal, oil or natural gas options, according to Irena’s global database.

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

The latest report, he said, sends a clear signal to the international community that 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, a global intergovernmental organisation that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future and serves as the principal platform for international co-operation, will work closely with members to facilitate on-the-ground solutions and concerted action that will culminate in renewable energy projects, Mr La Camera, added.

Global renewable energy capacity has grown to reach 2,351 Gigawatts at the end of last year – around a third of total installed electricity capacity as nations continue efforts to develop solar, wind, hydro and other forms of sustainable power, Irena said in its Renewable Capacity Statistics 2019 report in April.

The annual increase of 7.9 per cent compared to 2017 was driven by solar and wind energy, which accounted for 84 per cent of the growth. Overall, 171 GW of new renewable energy were added last year, Irena said at the time.