Where We Are Today
As a growing number of cities, states and nations set goals for increasing amounts of renewable energy, economics is helping bring those plans to fruition. Over the past 20 years, the cost per kilowatt of wind power plants has decreased by 40%, while the cost of solar generation has dropped by 90%.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance has found that more than two-thirds of Earth’s population already lives in countries where solar or wind — or both — are the least-expensive sources of new electricity generation. BNEF projects that new wind and solar will cost less than existing coal and gas generation in China by 2027, and that new wind and solar will be cheaper than existing goal and gas generation in most of the world by 2030.
As wind and solar power become increasingly cost-competitive, investments in traditional, inflexible baseload plants such as large coal, nuclear, and gas combined-cycle plants are declining. This signals an end to the era of large, centralized power plants that run on fossil fuels.
Global financial trends reflect this dramatic shift, with renewable generation attracting more investment dollars than fossil-powered generation year after year. In 2018, investment in renewable power capacity was about three times higher than the amount invested in new coal- and gas-fired generation combined, according to the global renewable energy organization REN21. Worldwide investment in renewables has exceeded $230 billion for nine years in a row.
Lower costs and increasing spending on renewables are driving deeper penetration of renewable energy around the globe. While solar energy generates only about 2% of Earth’s electricity today, it is projected to generate 22% by 2050, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. And while wind generates 5% of today’s electricity, it is projected to generate 26% by 2050. While two thirds of the world’s electricity is generated from fossil fuels today, by 2050 two-thirds of electricity will be generated from zero-carbon sources, with almost half coming from renewables and the rest from hydroelectric and nuclear power.
The writing is on the wall: the global shift to renewable power generation has begun, and there is no going back.
That’s why Wärtsilä created The Path to 100%. We are engaging specialists, convening stakeholders, and generating realistic transition paths that will enable nations, states and communities to transition to 100% renewable energy.
Learn more. Download The Pathway to 100% today!