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Solar, Wind Are Now Cheaper Than Coal in Most of the World

Solar roof (Credit: Click to Enlarge.

The world’s premiere authority on global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (or IPCC for short), announced in an alarming report at the end of last year that the world is running out of time to curb carbon dioxide emissions.  In fact, the data they collected found that in order to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees centigrade over pre-industrial averages within this century (the goal set by the Paris climate agreement), the entire world would have to transition to 100 percent clean energy by the middle of the century.  This, it goes without saying, is a lofty goal.  But up until now, clean energies just haven’t been able to compete in a market flooded with cheap fossil fuels. 

Low- and no-carbon renewable energies like solar and wind power have long been subsidized by governments around the world because while they hold great promise for a clear, more sustainable energy future, they just couldn’t compete with natural gas, coal, and oil when it comes to the bottom line.  But now, what was once so prohibitively expensive that governments needed to give financial incentive for these green energy technologies to be adopted at any serious scale, have become extremely cheap–even with no government subsidies at all.

This week Bloomberg reported on the once unthinkable phenomena of solar and wind subsidies disappearing across the world because the industry has outgrown the need for them.  “On sun-drenched fields across Spain and Italy, developers are building solar farms without subsidies or tax-breaks, betting they can profit without them.  In China, the government plans to stop financially supporting new wind farms.  And in the U.S., developers are signing shorter sales contracts, opting to depend on competitive markets for revenue once the agreements expire,” Bloomberg said. 

Perhaps most importantly, the article goes on to point out, these developments of self-sufficiency and profitability in the renewable energies sector “have profound implications for the push to phase out fossil fuels and slow the onset of climate change.”  The importance of our global energy production and consumption in terms of the global community’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions and climate change can’t be overstated.  The Bloomberg report continues:  “Electricity generation and heating account for 25% of global greenhouse gases.  As wind and solar demonstrate they can compete on their own against coal- and natural gas-fired plants, the economic and political arguments in favor of carbon-free power become harder and harder to refute.”

Read original at Solar, Wind Are Now Cheaper Than Coal in Most of the World