With clean energy being generated at lower and lower prices around the world, solar power is playing a leading role in bringing the curtain down on coal, and will help the decarbonization of transport and space heating too.
Solar power’s leading role in driving the energy transition – and the decarbonization of other sectors required to stave off catastrophic climate change – has once again been highlighted in a major global study. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has published a study that not only signals the end times for coal-fired power, thanks to plunging unsubsidized clean power generation costs, but also indicates how cheap renewables can power the electrification needed to reduce carbon emissions from transport and space and water heating.
“In most parts of the world today, renewables are the lowest-cost source of power generation,” states the first sentence of the Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2018 report. That bold statement is backed up by a prediction that next year some 83% of the electricity generated by new PV capacity will be cheaper than new fossil fuel generation. Based on IRENA’s power purchase agreement and solar auction database, solar will generate electricity at a global weighted average price of $0.048/kWh in 2020. Such a figure would ensure PV electricity would also be cheaper than the marginal costs of power generated from 700 GW of existing coal-fired power stations worldwide.