According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, new solar and wind projects would soon cost less than many of the coal-fired power plants in the world, and policymakers will invest in them to improve economies despite the coronavirus.

Coal plants with a capacity of up to 1,200 gigawatts are likely to cost more to run by next year than new large-scale solar photovoltaic plants, the organization said, which advises countries to curb their use of fossil fuels.

“Renewables must be the backbone of national efforts to restart economies in the aftermath of the Covid-19 outbreak,” said Francesco La Camera, managing director of the Abu Dhabi-based agency, in a report Tuesday. “The energy transition has reached a significant turning point.”

Replacing 500 gigawatts of high-cost coal plants with solar and wind farms would reduce carbon emissions by about 1.8 gigatons, equivalent to 5 per cent of CO2 emissions in 2019, and save billions of dollars from consumers, Irena said. Coal-generated power comes mostly from the USA, China, India, Poland, Germany, South Korea and Ukraine.

Speeding up the Trend

Irena expects the cost of installing renewables to continue to fall in 2021 — to $ 0.043-kilowatt hours for onshore wind, down 18 per cent from 2019, and down 42 per cent from last year to $0.039 / kWh for large photovoltaic plants.

“Returns from the auction show this process speeding up, strengthening the argument to phase out coal entirely,” Irena said.

Still, research from the Paris-based International Energy Agency suggests that this year, for the first time in two decades, new wind and solar power will fall as factory closures delay the construction of renewable facilities.

Solar and wind energy costs could be consistently cheaper by 2030, Irena said in January, than conventional supplies.

The phenomenon is largely down to technical breakthroughs and rising project size. Since 2010 photovoltaic power has decreased costs by 82 per cent and onshore wind by 39 per cent, according to Irena.

Source – here