sustainable new energy sources.
The cost of renewable energy reached a record low in 2018.
- Solar energy and wind power are now among the most affordable renewable energy sources globally, and experts anticipate these costs to remain low for years to come.
Not long ago, coal was the cheapest form of energy. Now, solar and wind plants are half the cost of new coal plants. Cheap renewable energy and low-priced batteries are anticipated to lead to wind and solar producing 50 percent of the world’s electricity generation by 2050.
Renewable energy sources are beginning to take over the power sector with low-carbon alternatives producing environmental benefits at a low cost. Advances in technology are driving the price of renewable energy sources down. The dangers of climate change are setting in motion the move to renewable energy.
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) published a report, which announced that the cost of renewable energy is falling at such a rapid rate that it will be a dependably cheaper energy source than traditional fuels in only a few years’ time.
The IRENA report found that solar and onshore wind are the cheapest energy sources. It states that in 2017 wind turbine prices had an average cost of $0.06 per kWh, and at times dropped to $0.04 per kWh. At the same time, the cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) had fallen to $0.10 per kWh. In comparison, electricity produced by fossil fuels typically ran from $0.05 to $0.17 per kWh.
This same report predicts that within the next few years, solar and wind will be able to furnish electricity for as little as $0.03 per kWh.
Extensive investment and research into these renewable sources have caused prices to continue declining over the years. Between 2010 and 2017, the price of solar PV modules fell by almost three-quarters, while wind turbine prices dropped by half over the same period. Prices are continuing to decline, and a series of record-low auction prices for solar PV, concentrated solar power, onshore wind and offshore wind power were set in 2016-2017.
- tidal power.
Advocates for tidal power assert that construction costs are high right now; but tidal power has one of the lowest operations and maintenance costs. As such, this is an untapped source with potentially great benefits. The high cost of tidal projects is chiefly due to the fact that the industry is still in the early stages of development, compared with wind and solar which have received far more investment and research, initiating lower costs and efficiency.
These lower costs are expected to boost the adoption of renewables even further because of the hard work by governments and businesses that are aiming to achieve the climate goals of the Paris Agreement. The Agreement’s aim is to support the global effort to keep the global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels in this century, and to undertake efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
- Hydroelectric power is another cheap source of renewable energy, at an average of $0.05 per kilowatt hour, but the average cost of building new power plants is expensive. The construction of reservoirs has slowed significantly in recent years because building a dam and reservoir to maintain hydroelectric power takes a considerable amount of money, time, and construction. On top of that, most of the suitable spots to place hydro-plants have already been taken.