Renewable costs plummet according to IRENA

Mike Zaccardi, CFA, CMT

Solar and wind power technologies keep getting cheaper. The trend is your friend when it comes to prices for electricity generation across the world.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) released a report earlier this week detailing just how much the cost of developing renewable energy has become.

Diving right into the numbers, IRENA notes that solar photovoltaics (PV) prices have fallen a whopping 82% since 2010 while concentrating solar power (CSP) has dropped 47%. Less impressive, but still remarkably, onshore and offshore wind costs have dropped 39% and 29%, respectively.

Also in the news of late was an EIA report that detailed the current and expected mix of power generation in the United States. For the first time in over 130 years, renewable energy consumption surpassed that of coal.

Coal peaked in the mid-2000s right as renewables began to take off. Recall this period when oil & natural gas prices were through the roof, making renewable energy and technology a very attractive investment for energy and tech firms. So you could say the cure for high prices is indeed high prices.

Those firms inked big deals to develop new oil & natural gas drilling sites (U.S. shale) and technology firms plowed money into finding newer, greener ways to procure fuel. 12 years later, and here we are. Oil prices traded negative during April, natural gas is near 25-year lows and the cost of renewables continues to plummet.

This is great news for the US consumer. Yet another report found that the cost of energy among US consumers was at the lowest level in decades – much to do with the trend in the prices for power and to fuel our cars.

It really is astounding to look at the industry trends just in the last 15 years. And the future holds more growth for renewables as the world prioritizes a healthier planet.

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Chart source: IRENA