Electricity from Renewable Energy Sources is Now Cheaper than Ever - Visual Capitalist
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Electricity from Renewable Energy Sources is Now Cheaper than Ever

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renewable energy sources

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The Briefing

  • Electricity from new solar photovoltaic (PV) plants and onshore wind farms is now cheaper than electricity from new coal-fired power plants
  • The cost of electricity from solar PV plants has decreased by 90% since 2009

The Transition to Renewable Energy Sources

Renewable energy sources are at the center of the transition to a sustainable energy future and the fight against climate change.

Historically, renewables were expensive and lacked competitive pricing power relative to fossil fuels. However, this has changed notably over the last decade.

Renewables are the Cheapest Sources of New Electricity

Fossil fuel sources still account for the majority of global energy consumption, but renewables are not far off. The share of global electricity from renewables grew from 18% in 2009 to nearly 28% in 2020.

Renewable energy sources follow learning curves or Wright’s Law—they become cheaper by a constant percentage for every doubling of installed capacity. Therefore, the increasing adoption of clean energy has driven down the cost of electricity from new renewable power plants.

Energy SourceType2009 Cost ($/MWh)2020 Cost ($/MWh)% Change in Cost
Solar PhotovoltaicRenewable$359$37-90%
Onshore WindRenewable$135$40-70%
Gas - Peaker PlantsNon-renewable$275$175-36%
Gas - Combined Cycle PlantsNon-renewable$83$59-29%
Solar thermal towerRenewable$168$141-16%
CoalNon-renewable$111$112+1%
GeothermalRenewable$76$80+5%
NuclearNon-renewable$123$163+33%

Solar PV and onshore wind power plants have seen the most notable cost decreases over the last decade. Furthermore, the price of electricity from gas-powered plants has declined mainly as a result of falling gas prices since their peak in 2008.

By contrast, the price of electricity from coal has stayed roughly the same with a 1% increase. Moreover, nuclear-powered electricity has become 33% more expensive due to increased regulations and the lack of new reactors.

When will Renewable Energy Sources Take Over?

Given the rate at which the cost of renewable energy is falling, it’s only a matter of time before renewables become the primary source of our electricity.

Several countries have committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, and as a result, renewable energy is projected to account for more than half of the world’s electricity generation by 2050.

Where does this data come from?

Source: Lazard Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis Version 14.0, Our World in Data
Details: Figures represent the mean levelized cost of energy per megawatt-hour. Lazard’s Levelized Cost of Energy report did not include data for hydropower. Therefore, hydropower is excluded from this article.

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Charted: The Ukraine War Civilian Death Toll

Using data from the UN, this chart shows civilian death toll figures resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Ukraine war death toll

The Briefing

  • In total, since the war began in February there have been over 7,031 Ukrainian civilian deaths
  • Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by the use of explosive weapons, such as missiles and heavy artillery

Charted: The Ukraine War Civilian Death Toll

Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine has wrought suffering and death on a mass scale, with many Russian attacks targeted at civilians.

We’ve created this visual using data from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to better understand how many civilians have died in Ukraine as a result of the war, as well as how many were injured and how many were children.

The Numbers

As of early December, it is reported that 7,031 people in Ukraine have died because of the war — 433 of them children. Another 11,327 have been injured, 827 of which are children. In total, this is over 18,000 people killed or injured.

The figures are difficult to verify due to differing reports coming out of both Russia and Ukraine. The UN OHCHR anticipates that the numbers could be even higher.

The State of the Conflict

The war began on February 24th, 2022 and less than a year in, millions of people have been displaced by the conflict, and thousands of civilians have been injured or killed.

According to the UN, most of the civilian deaths have been caused by wide-ranging explosives such as heavy artillery shelling, missiles, and air strikes, and have been concentrated in Donetsk and Luhansk and in other territory still held by Ukraine.

Additionally, new estimates from Kyiv report approximately 13,000 Ukrainian military or soldier deaths, which has yet to be confirmed by the army.

Where does this data come from?

Source: The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights monthly reports on civilian deaths in Ukraine.

Note: Data on deaths and injuries can vary wildly depending on the source.

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