IRENA Launches Global Renewable Energy Cost Analysis Program

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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 The public debate around renewable energy, however, continues to suffer from an outdated perception that renewable energy is not competitive, forming a significant and unnecessary barrier to its deployment.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. 😀

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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