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Wind power now competing dollar to dollar with fossil fuels

08 October, 2015

Wind power is now as cheap as natural gas and coal, according to the latest global analysis.

The Bloomberg New Energy Finance report, found that in the second half of this year the average global cost of onshore wind energy dropped to $83 per megawatt hour of electricity - putting it on par with the rising cost of power generated by coal and gas.

Australian Wind Alliance National Convenor Andrew Bray said the detailed analysis is more evidence that renewable energy is not only good for the environment but is also a smart long-term financial investment.

"Clean energy solutions like wind and solar are getting more affordable and accessible by the day - making the switch from fossil fuels in Australia a no brainer," Bray said.

"Ten or even five years ago we couldn't have imagined how rapidly wind and solar technologies would improve. They are getting more affordable and accessible by the day,” Bray said.

"Innovation and the right policies are driving the global price of clean energy solutions like wind and solar down at the same time that the cost of dirty fossil fuels is rising. Switching to renewables just makes sense."

The BNEF report based its analysis on what's known as the "levelised cost of electricity" (LCOE), which takes into account factors such as interest rates, capital expenditures, and the operating costs of facilities, and uses these to compare different energy sources on a dollar value. The team analysed more than 55,000 projects around the world to come up with their global average figures.

The report found the global average cost of onshore wind energy has dropped two dollars from first half of the year to $83 per megawatt-hour of electricity, while for solar the cost is now $122 per MWh (down seven dollars in six months). Costs were also compared on a region to region basis.

In the same period, the LCOE of coal-fired generation increased from $66 per MWh to $75 in the Americas, from $68 to $73 in the Asia-Pacific region, and from $82 to $105 in Europe.

The cost for combined-cycle gas turbine generation rose from $76 to $82 in the Americas, from $85 to $93 in Asia-Pacific and from $103 to $118 in Europe.

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Martin Moran | Thursday, October 22, 2015, 2:04 AM
But can wind and solar generate 24 hours a day? At this time these generation methods still depend upon coal fired base load stations to pick up the load when the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine. We need more research into battery storage.