The price of electricity from new power plants – 2009 vs. 2019

Our World in Data had a great piece on the impact of “learning curves”/”experience curves” in the production of electricity from renewable sources.

Fossil fuel costs are driven by the cost of fuel and the operating costs of the plant. The key cost in a renewable plant on the other hand is the cost of the technology (e.g. the solar cell).

The moment we talk about the cost of technology, however, we get into the realm of learning curves. As installation and adoption of technology grows, we become more efficient. For an analogy, think of the impact of Moore’s law for semiconductors.

That, in turn, leads to a graph that looks like this. Solar has become the cheapest form of electricity and we aren’t done yet.

This graph doesn’t yet solve all our problems. In areas where the weather is volatile, we still have to factor in costs of storage. But, again, storage technology also follows the experience curve. So, even if storage is expensive now, things will look very different in a decade.

There’s a lot to love about renewable energy outside of the impact on its planet. Solar and Wind powered electricity are also the safest sources of energy by a distance.

Thanks to experience curves, adopting renewable energy around the world is well on its way to becoming the obvious choice.

And that’s fantastic.