Carbon

Prices of renewable energy sources plummeted between 2009 and 2017

The International Monetary Fund's annual World Economic Outlook has a section that nicely tells the story of why wind and solar power are growing so fast in power markets.

Reproduced from IMF's World Economic Outlook, April 2019; Chart: Axios Visuals

What they found: The chart above shows calculations of levelized cost of electricity from different forms of zero-carbon power. That's basically an all-in comparison of the costs of building, running, supplying and maintaining facilities over time.

By the numbers: "Between 2009 and 2017, prices of solar photovoltaics and onshore wind turbines fell most rapidly, dropping by 76 percent and 34 percent, respectively — making these energy sources competitive alternatives to fossil fuels and more traditional low-carbon sources," IMF notes.

  • The data is in a wider section about the prices of equipment and machinery.

The big picture: Today renewables account for about 25% of global power generation, according to IEA.

  • Hydropower has the largest share, but cost declines are helping wind and solar gain ground, with solar overtaking hydro in about a decade in their central case.

IEA's reports spark a metaphysical debate over the energy future

Executive director of the International Energy Agency, Faith Birol (center). Photo: Riccardo De Luca/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Executive director of the International Energy Agency, Faith Birol (center). Photo: Riccardo De Luca/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

A fascinating battle is flaring over the International Energy Agency's multi-decade projections of changes in the global energy mix.

Why it matters: There's a metaphysical question at the core of it — whether IEA's closely watched reports reflect policy and investment trends, or shape them.