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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New solar and wind energy projects are "undercutting the cheapest and least sustainable of existing coal-fired plants" worldwide, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said in a report Tuesday.

Driving the news: The group finds that in 2021, roughly 1,200 gigawatts of coal-fired generation may have higher operating costs than the average price of new utility-scale solar.

  • It also finds that onshore wind has slightly higher costs but still undercuts about 850 gigawatts of coal by 2021.
  • That finding is part of a wider look at falling costs for a suite of renewables technologies and how they stack up to fossil generation.

By the numbers: Retiring the least competitive 500 gigawatts of coal plants and replacing them with solar and onshore wind would save $12 billion to $23 billion annually in power system costs, they conclude.

  • That would cut CO2 emissions by 1.8 gigatonnes, which is 5% of last year's global total, per IRENA, the roughly decade-old intergovernmental group that advises nations on renewables policy.

What they're saying: “We have reached an important turning point in the energy transition. The case for new and much of the existing coal power generation is both environmentally and economically unjustifiable," Francesco La Camera, IRENA's director-general, said in a statement.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Sep 2, 2020 - Energy & Environment

The energy jobs that Gen Z wants

Data: Morning Consult; Chart: Axios Visuals

Members of Generation Z are far more interested in careers in renewable energy than nuclear power or fossil fuels, new Morning Consult polling shows.

Why it matters: The new data underscores a much-discussed problem facing the oil-and-gas and nuclear sectors: Attracting young talent.

“You blew it”: GOP activist turns on corporations over vaccine mandates

The chairman of the American Conservative Union said on "Axios on HBO" he accepts "Joe Biden is my president, and I want him to succeed," but predicted Republicans retake the House and Senate in 2022 — with greater than 50% odds Donald Trump runs in 2024.

The big picture: In a joint interview with his wife, Mercedes, Matt Schlapp also refused to share their vaccination status. And he told corporate America "you blew it" by embracing vaccine mandates and liberal social stances that have alienated GOP voters and politicians.

13 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Pelosi expects “billionaire’s tax” to pay for Biden social spending

Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday she expects the chamber to pass the bipartisan infrastructure plan by week’s end, and alternatives to corporate tax hikes and a “billionaires tax” will be used to finance President Biden’s promised expansion to the social safety net.

Why it matters: Pelosi’s comments come as House and Senate leaders try to wrap up a deal. What will get cut — and how the remainder will be paid — are linchpins to a final agreement.