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Global weighted average cost of electricity from hydropower declined 12% in 2018

The global weighted average cost of electricity from all commercially available renewable power generation technologies declined year-on-year in 2018, with hydropower dropping by 12%, according to Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2018.

According to report publisher the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), renewable energy has become an increasingly competitive way to meet new power generation needs. This comprehensive cost study highlights the latest trends for each of the main renewable power technologies and draws on the latest cost and auction price data from projects around the world.

Considering all technologies, IRENA says the global weighted average cost of electricity declined 26% for concentrated solar power (CSP), followed by bioenergy (14%), solar photovoltaic and onshore wind (both 13%), hydropower (12%), and geothermal and offshore wind (both 1%).

Specific to hydropower, the report says the global weighted average levelized cost of electricity was US$0.047/kWh. In 2018, the global weighted average total installed cost of hydropower projects declined 16%, to US$1,492/kW. IRENA notes, “Part of the reason for the 2018 fall in the global weighted-average installed cost for hydropower was the high share of projects taken by China (8.5 GW) in the total new capacity commissioned in 2018 (21 GW). This is because China has installed costs that are typically 10%-20% lower than the average.”

Continuing cost declines underline renewable power as a low-cost climate and decarbonization solution, IRENA says. More than three-quarters of the onshore wind and four-fifths of the utility-scale solar PV capacity due to be commissioned in 2020 should provide lower-priced electricity than the cheapest new coal-fired, oil or natural gas option, the report notes.

“Renewable power is the backbone of any development that aims to be sustainable,” said IRENA’s Director-General Francesco La Camera. “We must do everything we can to accelerate renewables if we are to meet the climate objectives of the Paris Agreement. Today’s report sends a clear signal to the international community: Renewable energy provides countries with a low-cost climate solution that allows for scaling up action.”

Along with reviewing cost trends, the report analyzes cost components in detail. The report draws on IRENA’s cost database of about 17,000 renewable power generation projects and 9,000 auction and power purchase agreements for renewable power.