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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

Amy Harder, author of Generate
Jan 25, 2021 - Energy & Environment
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.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate action on stimulus bill continues as Dems reach deal on jobless aid

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democratic leaders struck an agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) on emergency unemployment insurance late Friday, clearing the way for Senate action on President Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package to resume after an hours-long delay.

The state of play: The Senate will now work through votes on a series of amendments that are expected to last overnight into early Saturday morning.

Capitol review panel recommends more police, mobile fencing

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

A panel appointed by Congress to review security measures at the Capitol is recommending several changes, including mobile fencing and a bigger Capitol police force, to safeguard the area after a riotous mob breached the building on Jan. 6.

Why it matters: Law enforcement officials have warned there could be new plots to attack the area and target lawmakers, including during a speech President Biden is expected to give to a joint session of Congress.