Climate Action

Renewable energy is the “cheapest source of electricity”, says IRENA

The International Renewable Energy Agency released a report on May 29th reaffirming renewable power as the “cheapest source of electricity”.

  • 03 June 2019
  • Poppy Bootman

The International Renewable Energy Agency released a report on May 29th reaffirming renewable power as the “cheapest source of electricity”.

IRENA’s annual assessment of clean power economics has been published ahead of Abu Dhabi’s global preparatory meeting for the United Nations Climate Action Summit in September.

Prices are set to continue to fall, as the economic market will invest further and the cost advantages will “underline renewable power as a low-cost climate and decarbonisation solution” the report finds.

IRENA’s Director-General, Francesco La Camera, said: “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. 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.”

Data found the global average cost from concentrating solar power decreased by 26%, bioenergy by 14%, solar photovoltaics by 13%, onshore wind by 13%, hydropower by 12%, geothermal by 1% and offshore wind by 1%.

The report estimates that cost reductions will continue to decrease in the next decade, especially for solar and wind power technologies. Specifically, over three-quarters of the onshore wind and four-fifths of the solar projects due to be commissioned next year will produce power for lower prices than the cheapest produced coal, oil or natural gas energy. Significantly, the report establishes that these trajectories are to continue without financial assistance.

IRENA also found that expectations of cost reductions are continually being beaten, as lower values are being found each year. The information confirms IRENA’s assertion that the consistent cost advantages “make renewable power the competitive backbone of the global energy sector transformation”.

The report’s data continues the trends of the decreasing costs of renewable energy published in IRENA’s report in 2018. Adnan Amin, the first Director-General of IRENA, said: “Turning to renewables for new power generation is not simply an environmentally conscious decision, it is now an overwhelmingly a smart economic one”, and the 2019 report seems to reaffirm and bolster this statement.

Read the full 2019 report here.