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Two-thirds of new renewable power cheaper than coal last year – Irena

Agency believes high gas prices will make new gas-fired generation in Europe increasingly uneconomic.
Irena's Francesco La Camera says renewables are by far the cheapest form of power today. Image: AdobeStock

Almost two-thirds or 163 gigawatts (GW) of new renewable power capacity added last year had lower costs than the cheapest coal-fired power plants in G20 countries, a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) showed.

Last year, the cost of electricity from onshore wind fell by 15%, offshore wind fell by 13% and solar photovoltaic (PV) fell by 13% compared to 2020, the report said.

“Renewables are by far the cheapest form of power today,” said Francesco La Camera, director general of Irena.

“Renewable power frees economies from volatile fossil fuel prices and imports, curbs energy costs and enhances market resilience, even more so if today’s energy crunch continues.”

Prices of coal and natural gas have rocketed over the past year, putting a strain on industries, businesses and consumers. European gas prices have spiked in particular, mainly due to concerns about Russian gas supply since the war in Ukraine.

Irena said high European gas prices will make new gas-fired generation in Europe increasingly uneconomic over its lifetime.

Fuel and carbon permit costs for existing gas plants might average four to six times more this year than the lifetime cost of new solar PV and onshore wind commissioned in 2021, the report said.

Between January and May this year, the generation of solar and wind power might have saved around $50 billion in fossil fuel import costs in Europe.

The report said not all material cost increases have been passed onto equipment prices and project costs yet. If material costs remain elevated, price pressures this year will be more pronounced.

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