For the first time in history, the production cost of renewables is lower than that of fossil fuels, an industry asset manager has claimed.
In a recent note to its clients, Hamburg, Germany-based Kaiserwetter Energy Asset Management, wrote that its "internal analysis" – based on data from Bloomberg, The Frankfurt School, Renewable Cost Database of the International Agency for Renewable Energy (IRENA) and UN Environment – puts fossil fuels generated energy costs in the range of $49 and $174 per MWh (Megawatt hours) in G20 energy markets in 2017.
Over a comparable period, renewable energy production came in between $35 and $54 per MWh. Breaking the data down further, Kaiserwetter said the international average cost for hydroelectric projects were more than $50 per MWh, wind power was $51 per MWh, and photovoltaic solar energy was $54 per MWh on average.
To arrive at its conclusion, the asset manager grouped the costs of 15,000 utility projects and calculated the risks that investors will assume across 54 countries between 2020, 2025 and 2030.
And the latest photovoltaic energy auctions in Dubai, Mexico, Chile, Abu Dhabi or Saudi Arabia, and onshore wind energy in Brazil, Canada, India or Morocco in 2017 suggested that the standard cost of energy can be reduced to $30 per MWh from 2018, Kaiserwetter said.
"However, onshore wind energy has already achieved similar costs in projects across Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Mexico and Morocco, already reaching $30 MWh."
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|Wind and solar as % of total electricity production, 2016|
Source: Enerdata. Click to enlarge
In 2016, 5.4% of China's and 4.3% of India's electricity came from wind and solar. In both countries, there will likely be little net new coal power expansion in the future. At a 3% growth rate in total demand, this suggests that they will reach about 40% of total electricity production from wind and solar in 15 years.
Still not fast enough, but as the costs of renewables continue to fall, the chances are that technically viable coal power stations will be shuttered because of their economics, as has happened in the US. Renewables (including big hydro) delivered 24% of world electricity supply in 2016. By 2030, my forecast is that it will have reached at least 2/3rds of total production, driven by the falling costs of wind and solar and batteries, and the continued long-term rise in global temperatures.
(By the way, I recommend Enerdata's site. It's full of useful stats)