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Sunny side up: Solar will be cheaper than conventional power by 2020, says IRENA

Utility-scale renewable energy projects will generally produce cheaper power than fossil fuels by 2020, says the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Staff Writer, ZAWYA

Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week is underway, with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) opening its eighth annual assembly on Saturday, publishing a report which argued that renewable energy projects that were commissioned last year “largely” fell within the range of generation costs of electricity derived from fossil fuels.

The report argued that electricity generated from renewable sources “will soon be consistently cheaper than from most fossil fuels”.

An executive summary of the report stated that the global levellised cost of electricity of utility-scale renewables projects has dropped by around one quarter for onshore wind projects since 2010, while the cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity installations has fallen by 73 percent over the same period.

Global weighted average costs for projects commissioned last year came in at $0.06 per kilowatt hour (kWh) for onshore wind projects and $0.10 for solar PV projects respectively, the report said.

Offshore wind projects and concentrated solar power (CSP) schemes were slightly more expensive at $0.14 and $0.22 per kWh respectively, but IRENA’s report said that auction results in 2016 and 2017 for offshore wind and CSP projects that will be commissioned by 2020 signal that prices will fall to $0.10 and $0.06 per kWh respectively, while the most efficient onshore wind and solar PV projects will be delivering energy for $0.03 per kWh from 2019 onwards.

IRENA said that this would be “significantly below” the current cost of electricity generated by fossil fuels, which it estimated to be between $0.05-$0.17 in 2017, depending on the type of fuel and the country in which it is generated.

In a press release announcing the report, IRENA director-general Adnan Amin, said: “These cost declines across technologies are unprecedented and representative of the degree to which renewable energy is disrupting the global energy system.”

He added: “Turning to renewables for new power generation is not simply an environmentally conscious decision, it is now – overwhelmingly – a smart economic one.”

In a separate announcement at IRENA on Saturday, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) announced that it would provide loans worth $25 million to fund two new overseas solar projects. A $10 million loan will help fund a solar rooftop installation programme for 10,000 homes in Mauritius, while a $15 million loan in Rwanda will contribute to a rural electrification strategy which is looking to provide 500,000 off-grid solar PV home systems.

Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week continues until next Saturday, January 20 and includes the World Future Energy and International Water summits, as well as the Ecowaste, Solar Expo and Energy Efficiency exhibitions.

According to its website, the 2017 event attracted 38.000 attendees from 175 countries.

About Marc Mcilhone

Marc Mcilhone
Marc Mcilhone is ArabBrains' Editor - sourcing news and features content and overseeing the work of the site’s contributors. Marc’s work is informed by his technical background in architecture having worked for some of the UK’s leading practices on projects within the education, healthcare and housing sectors. Marc has a particular interest in how innovators are creating sustainable solutions that have a positive impact on people’s everyday lives. Please email press releases and news to:

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