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Reproduced from Lazard; Chart: Axios Visuals

The financial advisory firm Lazard is out with its latest analysis of costs for competing energy technologies, and it says a lot about where the U.S. and global power sectors are heading.

Driving the news: The annual analysis shows continued cost declines for wind and solar, albeit not as dramatic anymore, as the chart above shows.

Why it matters: It underscores how these growing sources, already attractive compared to building new fossil-fueled generation, are increasingly competitive against even existing coal and gas-fired plants.

The big picture: The International Energy Agency's long-term outlook notes that "solar projects now offer some of the lowest cost electricity ever seen."

  • More broadly, its most conservative model — which uses only nations' existing and announced policies — sees renewables meeting 80% of global power demand growth over the next decade.

Where it stands: One part of Lazard's analysis looks specifically at how wind and solar fare against existing plants in the U.S. when you include current federal tax credits.

  • With those credits, "the cost of onshore wind and utility-scale solar is competitive with the marginal cost of coal, nuclear and combined cycle gas generation," a summary notes.
  • It's not even close when you compare coal and renewables.
  • The "values average $31/MWh for utility-scale solar and $26/MWh for utility-scale wind, while the latter values average $41/MWh for coal, $29/MWh for nuclear, and $28/MWh for combined cycle gas generation," Lazard notes.

How it works: The annual report looks at the "levelized" costs of power sources — that is, an inclusive cost comparison of building, running, supplying and maintaining different types of facilities over time.

  • However, it doesn't cover some considerations, like new transmission needed and grid integration costs.
  • Renewables' intermittency also means more storage is needed as deployment grows.
  • Lithium-ion batteries dominate the short-duration market, while a number of technologies are competing for a foothold in the younger long-term market, Lazard notes.

Go deeper

Column / Harder Line

Biden ushers in historical turn on clean energy and climate change

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Like the curve of Earth we can’t see from the ground, we’re on a curve in history that we won’t fully recognize until decades in the future.

Driving the news: The inauguration of President Biden completes an economic and political consensus that climate change is an urgent threat the world should aggressively address. Whether this consensus produces action remains deeply uncertain.

Starbucks drops worker vaccine mandate after SCOTUS ruling

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Starbucks announced in a memo to employees Tuesday that it has dropped plans to implement a vaccine mandate for all U.S. workers, AP reported on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The company's decision comes in response to the Supreme Court's ruling last week to block the Biden administration's COVID-19 vaccine-or-test requirement for large employers.

1 hour ago - Health

Omicron hits American hospitals disproportionately hard

Expand chart
Data: Our World in Data; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

America is seeing more COVID hospitalizations than other wealthy countries during the Omicron surge, according to Our World in Data.

Why it matters: Vaccines keep the vast majority of COVID cases out of the hospital, but vaccination rates are also lower in the U.S. than these other countries.