"In most parts of the world today, renewables are the lowest-cost source of new power generation." So begins a just-released report from the International Renewable Energy Agency.
"As costs for solar and wind technologies continue falling," the report adds, "this will be the case in even more countries." The report, titled Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2018, is the agency's latest annual look at comparative costs of energy technologies.
The agency is an intergovernmental organization, founded in 2009, that supports countries in transitioning to sustainable energy sources. It has 160 member countries, including the United States.
"Today's report," said Francesco La Camera, the agency's director-general, "sends a clear signal to the international community: Renewable energy provides countries with a low-cost climate solution that allows for scaling up action."
Here are some highlights from the report:
- The global weighted-average cost of electricity from each renewable source (solar, wind, hydro, geothermal, and biomass) decreased in 2018.
- By 2020, solar panels and land-based wind turbines will consistently be less expensive sources of new generating capacity than the cheapest fossil-fuel alternative, without financial assistance.
- As renewables push energy costs lower, users will switch from other types of energy to electricity. Electrification of industrial processes, transportation, and heating/cooling systems of buildings will increase. Electric vehicles, electric heat pumps, and other electric technologies will reduce the carbon footprint from many economic sectors. The report foresees "the share of electricity growing from less than a fifth of final energy demand to nearly half in 2050, on the back of cost-competitive renewables."