Global renewable energy capacity jumped eight percent last year despite a 23 percent drop in investment. Falling renewable energy prices are driving a build-up of capacity.
The world added a record amount of renewable energy in 2016 despite a sharp drop in investment, the UN said Thursday, largely due to falling costs of clean energy.
New renewable energy, excluding large hydro projects, added 138.5 gigawatts of power in 2016, up eight percent from the previous year. The new capacity came despite investment falling to $241.6 billion (227 billion euro), 23 percent lower than the previous year and the lowest since 2013.
….Not all the drop in investment was due to reduced costs, with China, Japan and some emerging markets cutting renewable investments. China’s investment in renewables dropped 32 percent to $78.3 billion, the first time in a decade it bucked a rising trend. Japan’s investment tumbled 56 percent.
What is encouraging is the 29% reduction in cost per KWh of renewable energy.
A 2014 study by Lazard, an international financial advisory and asset management firm, shows onshore wind has the lowest average levelized cost at $59 per megawatt-hour, and utility-scale photovoltaic plants weren’t far behind at $79. By comparison, the lowest cost conventional technologies were gas combined cycle technologies, averaging $74 per megawatt-hour, and coal plants, averaging $109. These numbers are the average of low- and high-end estimates….
Wind and solar costs falling
The levelized cost of some wind and solar technologies has plummeted in recent years. The graphic below shows that the average cost of onshore wind has fallen from $135 per megawatt-hour in 2009 to $59 in 2014. That’s a 56 percent drop in five years. The cost of utility-scale photovoltaic technology has plunged from $359 per megawatt-hour in 2009 to $79 in 2014, a 78 percent decline. [source: Energy Innovation]
The cost of large-scale solar continues to fall rapidly. In August 2016, Chile announced a new record low contract price to provide solar power for $29.10 per megawatt-hour (MWh). In September 2016, Abu Dhabi announced a new record breaking bid price, promising to provide solar power for $24.2 per megawatt-hour (MWh). [source: Wikipedia]
Wind prices are also falling. In 2016 the Norwegian Wind Energy Association (NORWEA) estimated the LCoE of a typical Norwegian wind farm at 44 €/MWh, assuming a weighted average cost of capital of 8% and an annual 3,500 full load hours, i.e. a capacity factor of 40%. NORWEA went on to estimate the LCoE of the 1 GW Fosen Vind onshore wind farm which is expected to be operational by 2020 to be as low as 35 €/MWh to 40 €/MWh. Offshore wind prices are also falling. In November 2016, Vattenfall won a tender to develop the Kriegers Flak windpark in the Baltic Sea for 49,9 €/MWh. [source: Wikipedia]
The IEA says “The share of renewable energy in total final energy consumption climbed to 18.3%, continuing the slight acceleration of trends evident since 2010. However, progress is nowhere near fast enough to double its share to 36% in 2030. As highlighted in IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2016, the challenge is to increase reliance on renewable energy in the heat and transport sectors, which account for the bulk of global energy consumption.”