Renewable energy has emerged as an increasingly competitive way to meet new power generation needs. The comprehensive Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2017 from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) highlights the trends for each of the main renewable power technologies, based on cost and auction price data from projects around the world.
Broadly, the study finds:
- Renewable power generation costs continue to fall and are already very competitive to meet needs for new capacity.
- Competitive procurement – including auctions – accounts for a small fraction of global renewable energy deployment. Yet these mechanisms are very rapidly driving down costs in new markets.
- Global competition is helping to spread the best project development practices, reducing technology and project risk and making renewables more cost-competitive than ever before.
- In developed countries, solar power has become cheaper than new nuclear power.
- The levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) from solar photovoltaics (PV) decreased by 69% between 2010 and 2016 – coming well into the cost range of fossil fuels.
- Onshore wind, whose costs fell 18% in the same period, provides very competitive electricity, with projects routinely commissioned nowadays at USD 0.04/kWh.
- As installation accelerates, the cost equation for renewables just gets better and better. With every doubling of cumulative installed capacity for onshore wind, investment costs drop by 9% while the resulting electricity becomes 15% cheaper.
- Solar PV module costs have fallen by about four-fifths, making residential solar PV systems as much as two-thirds cheaper than in 2010.
The IRENA Renewable Cost Database includes 15000 data points for LCOE from projects around the globe, representing over 1000 gigawats (GW) of power generation capacity. An additional auctions database encompasses over 7,000 projects with nearly 300 GW of capacity.