Faster RE Adoption Can Cut Power Gen Cost by 50% by 2050: Wärtsilä

Highlights :

  • Electricity production costs could be reduced by up to 50% by 2050 if countries and states adopt 100% renewable systems faster than currently planned, reports a new study by Wärtsilä.
  • Coal-fired power – 70% of generation in India and 33% in Germany – can be securely replaced by renewables and flexibility from energy storage and thermal balancing power plants as early as 2040.

Electricity production costs could be reduced by up to 50% by 2050 if countries and states adopt 100% renewable systems faster than currently planned, reports a new study by Wärtsilä.

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The technology group has issued the ‘Front-Loading Net Zero’ report ahead of COP26, the UN’s Climate Change Conference to be held in Glasgow this autumn, demonstrating the environmental and economic opportunities for states that decarbonise rapidly.

According to Wärtsilä’s report, significant cost reductions can be achieved by front-loading the deployment of renewables, mainly wind and solar photovoltaic, and by utilising the technologies needed to balance their inherent intermittency, such as energy storage and thermal balancing power plants. Carbon neutral systems can provide cheaper electricity compared to current fossil fuel-based systems.

The study models Germany, India, and California, three markets with vastly different socio-economic dynamics, energy systems, and challenges, demonstrating the cost-optimal path towards 100% renewable power systems in each region.

Wärtsilä’s report reveals that by accelerating 100% renewable power systems, substantial benefits are unlocked:

● Accelerating renewables to become main source of electricity drives down fossil fuel usage (i.e. coal and gas), significantly reducing the overall levelised cost of electricity. India can halve its electricity costs by 2050, while California and Germany can cut costs by 17% and 8% by 2040 respectively.

● Coal-fired power – 70% of generation in India and 33% in Germany – can be securely replaced by renewables and flexibility from energy storage and thermal balancing power plants as early as 2040.

● Colossal carbon savings can be made in the short term, enabling national climate targets to be achieved. Germany can avoid 422 million tonnes of carbon dioxide by 2040 by accelerating its coal phase-out. This would help achieve its 65% reduction target (compared to 1990 levels) set for 2030.

● Renewables as the main source of primary energy for electricity generation can drive energy independence. For example, Germany could avoid the need to import 550 TWh of power by accelerating the phase-out of coal.

“The clear, deliverable pathways to 100% renewables modelled in these vastly different energy systems show that affordable net zero economies are in reach for every country at COP26,” claims the report. In addition to the deep dive models, the report’s chapters focusing on Australia, Chile and the UK’s energy transitions underline that the technologies needed to achieve 100% renewable power systems are already available at scale around the world.

Wärtsilä’s President & CEO Håkan Agnevall explains: “As we approach COP26, our ‘Front-Loading Net Zero’ report should act as a wake-up call for leaders, as this is our last and best chance to get countries on pathways to carbon neutrality. Our modelling shows that it is viable for energy systems to be fully decarbonised before 2050, and that accelerating the shift to renewable power coupled with flexibility, will help economies to thrive.”

“We have all the technologies that we need to rapidly shift to net zero energy. The benefits of renewable-led systems are cumulative and self-reinforcing – the more we have, the greater the benefits – so it is vital that leaders and power producers come together now to front-load net zero this decade.”

Sushil Purohit, President, Wärtsilä Energy and EVP, Wärtsilä, adds: “There is no single solution that fits all markets, and this report highlights the different paths and technologies that can be utilised. The ultimate aim, however, is common to all and that is to decarbonise energy production and take the fullest advantage of our natural energy sources.”

“This valuable report from Wärtsilä shows very clearly what can be achieved by moving away from conventional fuels towards 100% renewable energy. Reducing electricity cost and CO2 emissions in parallel generates CO2 reduction benefits. The technologies available today offer the flexibility and rapid reaction time needed to balance renewables,” said Christian Breyer, Professor at the LUT University.

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Soumya Duggal

Soumya is a master's degree holder in English, with a passion for writing. It's an interest she has directed towards environmental writing recently, with a special emphasis on the progress being made in renewable energy.

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