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.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 32,471,119 — Total deaths: 987,593 — Total recoveries: 22,374,557Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 7,032,524 — Total deaths: 203,657 — Total recoveries: 2,727,335 — Total tests: 99,483,712Map.
  3. States: "We’re not closing anything going forward": Florida fully lifts COVID restaurant restrictions — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam tests positive for coronavirus.
  4. Health: Young people accounted for 20% of cases this summer.
  5. Business: Coronavirus has made airports happier places The expiration of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance looms.
  6. Education: Where bringing students back to school is most risky.
Mike Allen, author of AM
10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden pushes unity message in new TV wave

A fresh Joe Biden ad, "New Start," signals an effort by his campaign to make unity a central theme, underscoring a new passage in his stump speech that says he won't be a president just for Democrats but for all Americans.

What he's saying: The ad — which began Friday night, and is a follow-up to "Fresh Start" — draws from a Biden speech earlier in the week in Manitowoc, Wisconsin: