Costs across the energy market are rapidly changing, but the picture remains patchy and contentious
The cost of renewable energy has fallen dramatically compared with power from fossil fuels and nuclear in the past five years, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). The median cost of producing baseload power – i.e. power available at any time – from coal, natural gas and nuclear plants is about $100/MWh today, against about $200/MWh for solar, which has fallen by 60% from its 2010 level of $500.
Those costs include investment, maintenance, fuel and decommissioning over a plant’s lifetime and vary widely between countries and plants. For example, in Belgium power from commercial rooftop solar installations costs $312/MWh but in Spain solar costs $167/MWh because of Spain’s greater sunshine, states the IEA report, titled Projected Costs of Generating Electricity.
“The costs of renewable technologies – in particular solar photovoltaic – have declined significantly over the past five years,” the Paris-based IEA says. “These technologies are no longer cost outliers.” The study, based on figures from 181 power plants in 22 countries, concludes that no one technology is the cheapest in all circumstances, as costs depend largely on labour costs, available resources and...