Nov 9, 2018

New renewables pull ahead of coal in cost race

Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The cost of building and operating renewable electricity plants has dropped below the expense of keeping coal-fired plants running under some circumstances, according to a new analysis.

Why it matters: The financial advisory firm Lazard's report is another data point showing that wind and solar are increasingly competitive with traditional power sources without tax subsidies, which widen the edge but expire in coming years.

  • As the Financial Times' Ed Crooks points out, "The calculations suggest that closures of coal-fired plants are likely to continue, eroding US demand for coal and jeopardising [President] Trump’s ambition to 'put our coal miners back to work.'"

Where it stands: The latest data on falling renewables costs released yesterday solidifies what started becoming apparent in last year's data from the firm.

  • In their latest report, they find the average so-called levelized cost of energy of utility-scale solar voltaic projects fell another 13% and the costs for onshore wind dropped another 7%.
  • The low end of the unsubsidized costs for onshore wind are now $29 per megawatt hour, while "the levelized cost of utility-scale solar is nearly identical to the illustrative marginal cost of coal, at $36/MWh," a summary notes.

Details: The levelized cost is basically an all-in comparison of the costs of building, running, supplying and maintaining different types of facilities over time.

But, but, but: Lazard cautions that the analysis does not include certain costs, such as transmission and grid integration for new projects. Nonetheless, Lazard's George Bilicic, who leads the firm's power, energy and infrastructure group, said in a statement:

"Although diversified energy resources are still required for a modern grid, we have reached an inflection point where, in some cases, it is more cost effective to build and operate new alternative energy projects than to maintain existing conventional generation plants.”

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Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 766,336 — Total deaths: 36,873 — Total recoveries: 160,001.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 3 p.m. ET: 153,246 — Total deaths: 2,828 — Total recoveries: 5,545.
  3. Federal government latest: The White House will extend its social distancing guidelines until April 30 — Rep. Nydia Velázquez diagnosed with "presumed" coronavirus infection.
  4. State updates: Virginia and Maryland issued stay-at-home orders to residents, joining 28 other states — Florida megachurch pastor arrested for refusing to call off mass services.
  5. World updates: Italy reports 1,590 recoveries from the virus, its highest ever.
  6. In photos: Navy hospital ship arrives in Manhattan
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Cuomo: Engaging in politics during coronavirus crisis is "anti-American"

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a Monday press briefing that he won't get into a political tussle with President Trump — calling it "counterproductive" and "anti-American" — as his state deals with the most confirmed coronavirus cases in the country.

The backdrop: Trump said during an appearance on "Fox & Friends" earlier Monday that Cuomo has received high polling numbers during the outbreak because New York has received federal aid.

Maryland and Virginia issue coronavirus stay-at-home orders

Data: Axios reporting; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued stay-at-home orders on Monday, with exceptions for residents engaged in essential services, including health care and government functions.

The big picture: The states are the latest to announce policies to enforce social distancing, which have affected almost 250 million Americans. More than 1.5 billion people worldwide had been asked to stay home as of last week.

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