The rapid deployment of renewable power generation technologies, combined with high learning rates, has driven down costs. This trend is projected to continue making renewables increasingly competitive with fossil fuels in countries across the world, and the least-cost option in a growing number of markets. The cost competitiveness is reflected in deployments in 2019 where renewables accounted for 72% of new capacity additions worldwide and have been between 173 GW – 178 GW in 2017, 2018 and 2019. The new installations in 2019 included 97 GW of solar photovoltaics (PV); 54 GW of onshore wind; 12 GW of hydropower; 6 GW of bioenergy for power; up to 5 GW of offshore wind; 0.7 GW of geothermal power; and 0.6 GW of concentrating solar power (CSP).
The cost competitiveness of renewable power has reached historic levels, with 56% of utility-scale capacity of renewables added in 2019 costing less than the cheapest new coal option. Utility-scale solar PV, biomass for power, hydropower, geothermal and onshore wind can all now provide electricity competitively compared to fossil fuels. Concentrating solar power and onshore wind are the much less deployed, but already auction results show they will also be competitive in the coming 2-4 years. Cost reductions for solar and wind power technologies will continue into the future, as further equipment and balance of plant cost reductions and performance improvements can be expected, which will lower the weighted-average levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) of renewables.
Consequently, renewable energy technologies now represent the most economical solution for new capacity in a growing number of countries and regions and are typically the most economical solution for new grid connected capacity, where suitable resources are available.
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