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Report says solar, wind’ll be cheapest energy options in G-20 nations by 2030

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A new study commissioned by Greenpeace, Germany, has averred that renewable energy will be the cheapest form of electricity in every Group of 20 countries by 2030.

The study calculated the levelized cost of solar and wind power for G-20 countries in 2015 and 2030. It was released ahead of this week’s G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, where President Trump faces tough climate talks with European leaders.

The study found that wind farms generated the cheapest electricity in 2015 across large swaths of Europe, South America, the United States, China and Australia. And technological advances will mean that solar power will be even cheaper than wind in many G-20 nations by 2030.

While the study was commissioned by Greenpeace Germany, it was conducted by researchers at the Finnish Lappeenranta University of Technology. The researchers relied on data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance and the International Energy Agency. They also accounted for the external costs of electricity generation, such as airborne pollution.

Tobias Austrup, an energy expert at Greenpeace Germany explained that “The message is quite clear,” noting that “If you are a president or a head of government and you want to make sure your economy is prospering from the energy transition, you should really hurry up and start investing in renewable energy and stop investing in fossil fuels and nuclear.”

He argued that the study will ideally inform conversations about climate change at the G-20 summit, saying “I guess the heads of government won’t read the study, but maybe their staff will”.

The G-20 summit marks Trump’s first meeting with world leaders after he withdrew the United States from the Paris climate accord (Climatewire, June 30). While Trump likes to brag about his ability to make deals, the study underscores that pulling the plug on Paris was “not a good deal,” Austrup said.

“If you want to do a good deal, which is a term your president uses, you should invest in renewable energy,” Austrup said. “Fossil fuels and nuclear energy are just not competitive.”

The study also highlighted the following country-specific trends:

By 2030, utility-scale solar could emerge as the lowest-cost technology for many G-20 nations, including Brazil, Italy and Japan.

Argentina has the potential to achieve the lowest levelized cost of electricity for solar and wind of all G-20 nations.

While coal dominates China’s current electricity landscape, solar and wind still have a promising outlook.

India already boasts the world’s lowest cost of solar due to competitive auctions, and solar will continue to represent the cheapest energy source.

Wind will be the cheapest option in 2030 in northern regions of the European Union; while solar will have low costs in the southern regions.

While France relies heavily on its nuclear fleet, nuclear will remain expensive due to high subsidies. And utility-scale solar will be competitive with traditional electricity production around 2020 in some parts of France.


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