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Is Renewable Power Really Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels?

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While IRENA touts declining costs over the past decade or two, the global push toward green energy and the race for net-zero commitments are pushing up demand for materials for low-carbon energy technologies, pressuring costs upward.

Year-to-date, solar module prices, for example, have jumped by 18 percent amid a severe shortage of polysilicon, which serves as a feedstock for the production of today’s solar cells. Polysilicon prices have surged to their highest in nearly a decade, according to data from PVInsights cited by Bloomberg.

New utility PV projects are becoming more expensive due to increasing costs for modules, shipping, and labor, Rystad Energy said in a report in April.


Growth rates have been 'orders of magnitude' from .01 to .1 to 1 to 10%. It's fairly easy to double or quadruple the size of a plant when the original plant isn't all that large. When the scale is 'global' and represents a replacement of total energy infrastructure, it represents a mature industry that has to compete for resources just like every other large scale industry. Business reports now have shifted from exponential growth to 'bumping along' with various shortages and site competition.

All this is really saying is 'join the club, you're now one of the big boys'. Renewable energy companies are 'majors' in the same sense that power companies, oil companies, and nuclear reactor builders are 'major'. Things will continue to get cheaper, as they do over time, but most likely not as fast, and not necessarily consistently.

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I tend to agree, that in general, renewables are now viable on economics alone. 

Each specific situation has to be checked out, just like it does for any other specific purchase - do you get a gas car, a diesel car, an electric car?  depends on what you want to do with it.  Gas, grid electric or solar to run the house?  depends on where you are at, how much space you have, what power costs in your area, if you have gas service, how far north you are, etc. 

But none of these are simple yes/no answers any longer

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