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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.

Major companies vow to train, hire Afghan refugees arriving in U.S.

Chobani founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya. Photo: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for Global Citizen

More than 30 major companies have promised to hire and train Afghan refugees coming to the U.S., per a press release from the Tent Partnership for Refugees, the group spearheading the effort.

The big picture: The 33 companies, including Amazon, Facebook, Pfizer and UPS, are joining the Tent Coalition for Afghan Refugees, a coalition founded by Hamdi Ulukaya, the founder and CEO of yogurt and food company Chobani.

Hispanic Heritage Month: Gracias, México, for color TVs

The patent diagram (left) from Guillermo González Camarena's chromoscopic adapter, and he and the engineer (right inspecting TV equipment around 1955 in Mexico City. Photos: U.S. Patent Office and Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia de México

Credit Mexican engineering and entrepreneurship for developments that led to the in color television, oral contraception and finding a way to help mend the ozone layer.

Why it matters: The contributions helped modernize how we could see the world; improve women's health and expand women's roles beyond the home; and identify dangerous emissions and how to reduce them.