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Natural Awakenings, Broward County, Florida

Large-Scale Solar Power Cost Plummets

Solar panels in snow

Pixabey/Pexels.com

report from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) describes a significant decrease in the cost of renewable energy sources compared to 2020, with solar leading the pack by a wide margin. The 10-year average adjusted costs of generation for a plant over its lifetime are 85 percent for utility-scale solar; 56 percent for onshore wind; 48 percent for offshore wind; and 68 percent for concentrated solar power. IRENA continues to see drops of between 7 percent and 16 percent in these categories this year. According to the same report, the 62 percent of new renewables added last year had lower costs than the cheapest fossil fuels.

New renewables are increasingly competitive against existing fossil fuels. In the U.S., 61 percent of current coal capacity already has higher operating costs. Phasing out these coal plants would start saving money almost immediately. IRENA Director-General Francesco La Camera states that because renewables cost more upfront than keeping old coal rolling, action is needed to make sure emerging economies are not left behind. “We are far beyond the tipping point of coal.”