Study: Renewables will be cheapest power source by 2030

Wind farms already generate the cheapest electricity in many G20 countries, according to a new study. [Neil Crick/ Shutterstock]

Renewable energy sources like wind and solar are set to be the cheapest form of power generation in the G20 countries by 2030, according to a new study. The EU also announced that the Paris Agreement “cannot be renegotiated”.

Ahead of this week’s G20 summit in Hamburg, the study also found that in half the G20 countries renewables have already been cheaper or the same price as electricity derived from coal or nuclear plants for the last two years.

The study, carried out by Finland’s Lappeenranta University and published by Greenpeace Germany, calculated the costs of electricity generation in all G20 countries for the years between 2015 and 2030.

It found that wind farms generated the cheapest electricity in 2015 across large parts of Europe, in South America, the United States, China and Australia. The study also predicted that technological progress will mean that solar power will be even cheaper than wind by 2030 in many G20 nations.

Almost 90% of new energy in Europe came from renewable sources in 2016

Renewable energy made up nearly nine-tenths of new power added to Europe’s electricity grids last year, in a sign of the continent’s rapid shift away from fossil fuels. Euractiv’s media partner The Guardian reports.

Greenpeace Germany’s energy expert, Tobias Austrup, said “climate protection increasingly makes economic sense across the G20 as renewable energy becomes cheaper than dirty coal and nuclear”.

He added that “any G20 country that is still investing in coal and nuclear power plants is wasting their money on technology that will not be competitive in coming years”.

At an event organised by the French Institute of International Relations on Tuesday (4 July), the French energy ministry’s executive director, Mario Pain, acknowledged that “renewables are a major part of the answer” when asked about the future of France’s electricity system.

But he warned that in order to decarbonise the European economy “price increases will happen. Citizens have to accept that is the cost of decarbonisation”, adding that “some countries, including France, are maybe not ready for that”.

Pain also confirmed that nuclear power will remain a major part of his country’s energy mix, highlighting the target of reducing nuclear from 75% to 50% of electricity generation by 2030.

Massive human chain protests ageing Belgian nuclear reactors

50,000 people from Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands formed a cross-border 90 km-long human chain on Sunday (25 June) to protest against the controversial Tihange nuclear power plant. Micro-cracks were recently discovered in one of the facility’s reactors.

The French energy chief also warned that EU agreements on energy questions like the Emissions Trading Scheme reform will continue to be problematic, given the economic and social reliance of some bloc members on coal. Pain insisted that “coal is not a problem in France though”.

Today (5 July), the EU told its G20 partners that the Paris Agreement will not go back to the negotiating table, following US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the international accord.

In its statement ahead of this week’s Hamburg meeting, Brussels insisted that: “The Agreement remains a corner stone for global efforts to effectively tackle climate change and implement the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and we consider that it cannot be re-negotiated.”

On Trump’s controversial withdrawal, Greenpeace’s Austrup added that the US president’s “energy policy is simply a bad deal. The US has excellent conditions for expanding its wind and solar capabilities and states like California, Texas or Iowa will not miss this chance”.

EU calls on all cities to join Global Covenant of Mayors

The Commission’s Energy Union chief on Tuesday (27 June) urged all cities to join the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, an initiative which has gained more weight since Donald Trump announced the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Admittedly, Trump appeared to jump on the renewable energy bandwagon at the end of last month, when he told an Iowa crowd that his administration is considering installing solar panels on the planned border wall with Mexico.

The president said the idea was “unique” and that it would mean the wall would “pay for itself”. The proposal has since garnered criticism for Trump’s blatant U-turn on large-scale government spending and anti-renewable energy stance, as well as the idea’s lack of feasibility.