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Renewables could be ‘cheaper than gas’ by 2025, says US study



Clean energy can become cost-competitive by 2025 without the need for subsidies, if the best locations are exploited effectively, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

Researchers at the renewables branch of the US Department of Energy have compared the cost of green energy in the most productive locations on the west coast of the country with the cost of energy produced by a natural gas-fired power plant.

The report found that the cost gap could be significantly narrowed by 2025, by relying on productive locations.

Lead author David Hurlbut said, “The electric generation portfolio of the future could be both cost effective and diverse.

“If renewables and natural gas cost about the same per kilowatt-hour delivered, then value to customers becomes a matter of finding the right mix.”

For instance, Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado and Montana offer significant opportunities for wind developments, if issues related to energy transmission can be overcome. Meanwhile, California, Arizona and Nevada would be top locations for solar farms.

Hurlbut added, “Renewable energy development, to date, has mostly been in response to state mandates. What this study does is look at where the most cost-effective yet untapped resources are likely to be when the last of these mandates culminates in 2025, and what it might cost to connect them to the best-matched population centres.”

In June, the International Energy Agency revealed that energy produced from renewable sources was set to outstrip gas and nuclear, as many clean projects do not need subsidies anymore, only “clear policies”.

Further reading:

Emerging economies heralded as future leaders of renewable energy market

IEA warns ‘golden age of gas’ could scupper renewables

Ramp up investment to provide sustainable energy for all in 2030, says World Bank

Ditch energy subsides for a better world, says IMF report

The Guide to Limitless Clean Energy 2013