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IRENA reports on declining average cost of electricity from renewable energy, incl. geothermal

weighted cost, capacity factors and LCOE for geothermal (source: IRENA, 2019)
Alexander Richter Alexander Richter 29 May 2019

In its annual report on the cost of renewable power generation cost, IRENA highlights the competitive nature of geothermal based on cost, while pointing to the limited development making analysis difficult.

A comprehensive cost study from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) highlights the latest trends for each of the main renewable power technologies. Released ahead of high-profile United Nations energy and climate discussions, Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2018 draws on the latest cost and auction price data from projects around the world.

Costs from all commercially available renewable power generation technologies declined in 2018. The global weighted-average cost of electricity declined 26% year-on-year for concentrated solar power (CSP), followed by bioenergy (-14%), solar photovoltaic (PV) and onshore wind (both -13%), hydropower (-12%), geothermal and offshore wind (both -1%), the report finds.

For geothermal, IRENA points to the weakness of data analysis due to the limited number of MWs added in the greater scale of things. In 2018, just over 500 MW of new geothermal power generation capacity was added, so IRENA. Where good high-temperature resources exist, geothermal can be a very economical source of round-the-clock power. In 2018, the global weighted-average LCOE of new geothermal plants commissioned was USD 0.072/?kWh, 1% lower than in 2017. The market for geothermal remains modest, with between a minimum of 90 MW (in 2011) and a maximum of 650 MW (in 2015) of annual new capacity commissioned between 2010 and 2018.

The report highlights that “given the small number of projects commissioned each year, the global weighted-average LCOE in any given year is heavily influenced by the site-specific characteristics of the project, as well as the country. The global weighted average LCOE of newly commissioned geothermal plants was USD  0.05/kWh in 2010, with this rising to USD  0.08/kWh in 2012, while between 2013 and 2018, the average was between USD  0.06/kWh and USD 0.07/kWh.

Source: IRENA