Renewable energy costs falling: agency

June 6, 2012
Adnan Amin, chairman of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), speaks in Abu Dhabi. Power from renewable energy sources is getting cheaper every year, according to a study released Wednesday, challenging long-standing myths that clean energy technology is too expensive to adopt.

Power from renewable energy sources is getting cheaper every year, according to a study released Wednesday, challenging long-standing myths that clean energy technology is too expensive to adopt.

According to the study by the Abu Dhabi-based International Renewable Energy Agency, the costs associated with extracting power from solar panels has fallen as much as 60 percent in just the past few years.

The price of from other renewables, including wind, , concentrating solar power and biomass, was also falling.

"One of the (myths) out there perpetuated by industry lobby groups is that renewable energy is too expensive," said Adnan Amin, IRENA's director general.

The numbers tell a different story however as "costs are falling exponentially... and will continue (to do so) in the future," said Amin arguing that "is now cost competitive with many traditional fossil ."

According to Dolf Gielen, director of IRENA's innovation and technology centre, investment in renewables is no longer a niche but rather represents the "bulk of investments in global power generation," accounting for half of the total annual capacity additions worldwide.

"The markets are growing very fast... and further cost reductions are very likely," he said adding that in 2011, investments in the supply side of reached about $260 billion.

A second IRENA study released Wednesday estimates renewables will create a minimum of four million jobs just in the electricity sector in rural areas of the developing world.

Today, there are five million jobs world-wide in the renewable energy sector and more than 1.3 billion people, mainly in Africa and Asia, who do not have access to electricity, according to IRENA.

"There is considerable employment potential," said Amin.

Founded in 2009, IRENA is an intergovernmental organisation established to promote the widespread use of renewable energy sources. It has more than 155 member states and is headquartered in Abu Dhabi.

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2.3 / 5 (3) Jun 06, 2012
It's great that solar panels coming down so fast in price but why is it? Is it because of Chinese labor or because subsidies are being cut allowing the market to work? I know silicon is abundant but takes an energy intensive process to purify.
not rated yet Jun 06, 2012
It is simple economy of scale.
For example, more TVs are still produced worldwide than PV panels.
1 / 5 (1) Jun 06, 2012
Sounds like a natural for African enterprise. More silicon in the Sahara than anywhere else on the planet. Lots of wasted manpower in Africa. I am sure that a marriage of the two and a bit of industry on the part of industrialized parts of this great continent can generate a power house of future power potential. For one, great fields of photovoltaics in southern central Libya, Algeria, and Egypt could supply all Europe with energy...forever!
2.3 / 5 (4) Jun 06, 2012
Or is it technological breakthroughs that are driving down the price?
3.4 / 5 (5) Jun 07, 2012
What astounds me is how fast it has gotten to the point of being economically viable from a standing start.

Makes you wonder how much earlier we could have gotten there if we'd just have had the heart (and minds) to realize that continually dumping waste in to the atmosphere wasn't going to be without sideeffects for ever and ever.
1 / 5 (1) Jun 09, 2012
Then build the sillycon pyooorifikashun plants in the Sahara or in the Mojave deserts. Let the plants be powered with solar panels so the sillycon basically purifies itself....fer nuthin by the labor of dustin the panels ever so often...or fit the panels with wipers. Heck, the Benz engineers even put wipers on their car's headlites! Do this a LOT so we profit from the economics of scales.

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