New electricity from solar and wind will be cheaper than coal in most parts of the United States by 2023, according to a new report published yesterday by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), the latest in a flurry of studies that show fossils rapidly losing ground as a viable source of new generating capacity.
“Some existing coal and gas power stations, with sunk capital costs, will continue to have a role for many years, doing a combination of bulk generation and balancing,” said BNEF’s head of energy economics, Elena Giannakopoulou. “But the economic case for building new coal and gas capacity is crumbling.”
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“We are seeing record low prices being set for wind and solar,” added Seb Henbest, BENF’s head of Europe, the Middle East, and Africa for BNEF. “This is having a powerful effect. It’s changing perceptions.”
The 104-page report compared the cost of different electricity options across several key jurisdictions, including China, the United States, India, and Australia. It noted that the cost of lithium-ion batteries has dropped 79% since 2010, making energy storage a realistic option to guarantee the reliability of renewable generation.
“The cheapest solar and wind costs can now be found in China and India, which are also among the worst polluters,” Bloomberg notes. “The tumbling costs will continue until at least until 2040 for both renewable energy sources worldwide, and they’ll become cheaper than coal and gas within five years, the report showed.”