Unsubsidized solar and wind are beating fossil energy on price alone in 30 countries, without even factoring in the social cost of carbon associated with coal, oil, and gas production, and will reach grid parity in two-thirds of the world’s nations within a few years, according to a year-end report by the World Economic Forum.
“Renewable energy has reached a tipping point—it now constitutes the best chance to reverse global warming,” said Michael Drexler, the WEF’s lead for infrastructure and development investing. “It is not only a commercially viable option, but an outright compelling investment opportunity with long-term, stable, inflation-protected returns.”
The gains come largely “from increased efficiency, with solar panel yields jumping from 15% to 22% in the past five years,” and “wind turbine efficiency increasing from 25% to 50% within the last decade,” the Christian Science Monitor reports. “The shift comes just a year after investments in renewable energy passed those in fossil fuels. In 2015, some US$285 billion flooded the industry, with Asia leading the pack, according to the WEF.”
While the CSM article focuses largely on the prospects for renewable energy progress under the Trump administration, Quartz looks at the road ahead for investment in the low-carbon transition.
“Global investment in renewable energy still lags far behind levels needed to avoid potentially catastrophic global warming,” notes correspondent Michael J. Coren, with the $286 billion last year only scratching the surface of the $1-trillion annual target set at the Paris climate summit in 2015.
“But prices are eventually expected to win the day. Solar is projected to fall to half the price of electricity from coal or natural gas within a decade or two,” he writes. “That milestone has already been reached in some locales.”