The cheapest electricity in history

The Carbon Brief team had a nice summary of the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2020. My favorite 3 nuggets:

(1) “For projects with low-cost financing that tap high-quality resources, solar PV is now the cheapest source of electricity in history.”

(2) India will build 86% less new coal power capacity than expected last year. Long seen as driving global coal growth, IEA now says India will add just 25GW by 2040.

The result? Global coal capacity will fall.

(3) This year’s version of the highly influential annual outlook offers four “pathways” to 2040, all of which see a major rise in renewables. The IEA’s main scenario has 43% more solar output by 2040 than it expected in 2018, partly due to detailed new analysis showing that solar power is 20-50% cheaper than thought.

Despite a more rapid rise for renewables and a “structural” decline for coal, the IEA says it is too soon to declare a peak in global oil use, unless there is stronger climate action. Similarly, it says demand for gas could rise 30% by 2040, unless the policy response to global warming steps up.

This means that, while global CO2 emissions have effectively peaked, they are “far from the immediate peak and decline” needed to stabilise the climate. The IEA says achieving net-zero emissions will require “unprecedented” efforts from every part of the global economy, not just the power sector.

For the first time, the IEA includes detailed modeling of a 1.5C pathway that reaches global net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050. It says individual behaviour change, such as working from home “three days a week”, would play an “essential” role in reaching this new “net-zero emissions by 2050 case.

It has been awesome to see the IEA continually revise up the solar forecasts. I predict continued revisions in the coming years. Solar adoption will continue to rise quickly because it will be the obvious economical decision.

And, that’s fantastic.