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Published on December 12th, 2013 | by Zachary Shahan


IRENA Launches Global Renewable Energy Cost Analysis Program

Full disclosure: I love IRENA (the International Renewable Energy Agency). With that said, I’m thrilled to share with you the news that IRENA has launched a global renewable energy cost analysis program aimed at being the go-to source for renewable energy cost information. The website for the program is:

The bottom line is that cost is now on the side of renewables in a ton of locations, and that will become the case in more and more locations as clean energy costs continue to go down and dirty energy costs continue to go up. However, while this is common knowledge to CleanTechnica readers, most people — even experts in related fields — don’t realize this.

Here’s more from IRENA:

Renewable energy has entered into a virtuous cycle of falling costs, increasing deployment, and accelerated technological progress. The public debate around renewable energy, however, continues to suffer from an outdated perception that renewable energy is not competitive, forming a significant and unnecessary barrier to its deployment.  IRENA’s cost analysis programme is designed to improve the publicly available analysis and data on costs to allow policy makers and investors to make robust decisions about the role of renewables. By improving the quality of renewable cost data and its dissemination, IRENA is working hard to accelerate the deployment of renewables by providing up-to-date information on renewable energy technologies, their costs and cost-reduction potential.

IRENA’s goal is to become THE source for renewable cost data. Our aim is to provide you with easily accessible information in a variety of formats that meet your needs for information about renewable energy technology costs and performance.

IRENA’s costing work is built around a unique, world-class resource, the IRENA Renewable Cost Database. The IRENA Renewable Cost Database contains data from over 9,000 utility-scale renewable energy projects and is being continuously expanded through IRENA’s Renewable Costing Alliance, an alliance of companies, industry association, governments and researchers that share, confidentially, their data for real-world renewable energy projects, helping to build further on IRENA’s costing work to date.

For more information and how to join go to IRENA RENEWABLE COSTING ALLIANCE.

I’ve been exploring the website a bit. The most notable thing I’ve seen there so far is this chart:


There’s a lot of information packed into that chart, but I’ll pull out a few quick points that stand out to me:

  • There is huge variation in the cost of solar PV in all markets.
  • There’s also large variation in the cost of biomass, CSP, hydro, geothermal, and even wind in some regions.
  • Renewable energy is far cheaper than distributed diesel-fired electricity generation.
  • All renewables except solar are cheaper or well within the range of fossil fuels in OECD countries.
  • Solar PV is started to get into the range of fossil fuels in OECD countries.
  • This is all in reference to wholesale LCOE, while solar PV can often compete with retail electricity (which is more expensive).
  • This doesn’t take into account time of electricity production, the value of electricity at peak demand, and solar’s competitiveness at the times it produces electricity. (Of course, all that would be too much to include in one chart.)

Regarding cost of electricity from different sources on islands, this is also a cool chart:

pacific islands

Coconut oil?

But, anyhow, it’s clear that solar PV is competitive with fossil fuels there, while wind, biomass, landfill gas, geothermal, and hydro are even cheaper. As one line in a presentation I found on the site said: “Renewables now THE economic solution off-grid and for mini-grids, increasingly competitive for grid supply.”

There are several good presentations available for download on the site.

There are also pages of charts for different renewables, such as solar PV, CSP, geothermal, wind, etc., as well as for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. (I love that they’re including electric vehicles!)

And there are some great fast facts on the site that I’m sure I will reference.

I certainly learned some thing already from browsing around the site, and I’m sure I will utilize it regularly. But, overall, it looks like the site has some building out to do in order to become “THE source for renewable cost data.”

But, for sure, keep up with the latest renewable energy and electric vehicle news and cost data here on CleanTechnica. :D

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About the Author

is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he's the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he's the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to and click on the relevant buttons.

  • Mohd Anis

    What is IRENA for?

  • Dave Murphy

    Home » Chemtrail News, Featured » Sioux Chief Speaks of Government Chemtrails

    Stephen Colbert Tells David Keith Government is Already Spraying Us

  • Matt

    I don’t understand how the fossil fuel plant cost is so narrow. Same cost for coal/oil/gas, new/old, locations with local coal/imported, polution controls verse almost none, peaking verse base load. Gas in US is a lot lower than Europe, but shows same cost every where. Or is fossil the cost after capital to build is paired off?

    • Zachary Shahan

      Good bewilderment. Hoping for an insightful response…

  • Steeple

    The IEA is great for supply and demand statistics, but I’ve not seen them produce this kind of analysis on differing cost bases. Since electricity is a local and not global commodity, it is critical to have some transparency on where costs lie by source and by region. I really like this work.

  • JamesWimberley

    What is IRENA for? For years, the IEA in Paris, a spinoff from the OECD, combined solid energy statistics with high-class policy PR for the oil industry. Then, it made sense to say. we need another organization to promote renewables. But around the time IRENA got going, the IEA got climate change religion and now combines solid energy statistics with high-class policy PR for renewables. It’s absurd duplication, and the same people have to fly to two sets of international meetings.

    • Dave Murphy

      We Are At The Beginning Of A Mini Ice Age

      I wrote a story a bout a month ago about the worst winter in 1,0000 years. Then I wrote another with more documentation.

      Folks it is snowing in Australia and its summertime. England is
      receiving tidel surges. All of easter Europe is covered in ice and snow
      and it is headed our way. Storms in the upper atmosphere are reampant
      and its our turn next. From what I have seen,been told, and my own
      research its due on the 17th 18th and 19th. From my understanding this
      is not a one or two day event. If you are near the beach PREPARE. A i
      know most of you will not. If you live at the foot of a mountain be
      careful as tremendous rains will cause devestating lehars. This is when
      the ground gets so heavy with water it will side down the mountain. Mud,
      trees, rocks etc. It is truly not me intebt to scare you ait is my
      intent to warn toy. make sure your gas tank is full and perhaps a second
      large can of gas will help. Personally I have a person on his way that
      will measure my windows and then we will decide if wood or metal is a
      better idear. Just google severe weather events and see what you get.
      The is just one from an English paper.
      I am not a fear monger I just want to inform you

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