Fossil Fuels Dominance Shrank on Renewables’ Cost Reduction, Says BNEF

The report on the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for all the leading technologies states that fossil fuel power is facing an unprecedented challenge in all the three roles it performs in the energy mix – supply of ‘bulk generation’, supply of ‘dispatchable generation’, and provision of ‘flexibility’.

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After significant reduction in the cost of wind, solar and battery technologies, coal and gas are facing a huge threat to their position in the world’s electricity generation mix, said the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) report.

The report on the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for all the leading technologies states that fossil fuel power is facing an unprecedented challenge in all the three roles it performs in the energy mix – supply of ‘bulk generation’, supply of ‘dispatchable generation’, and provision of ‘flexibility’.

In bulk generation, the threat comes from wind and solar photovoltaics – both of which have reduced their LCOEs further in the last year owing to the falling capital costs, improving efficiency and the spread of competitive auctions around the world.

In dispatchable power – the ability to respond to grid requests to ramp electricity generation up or down at any time of day – the challenge to new coal and gas is coming from the pairing of battery storage with wind and solar, enabling the latter two ‘variable’ sources to smooth output, and if necessary, shift the timing of supply.

In flexibility – the ability to switch on and off in response to grid electricity shortfalls and surpluses over periods of hours – stand-alone batteries are increasingly cost-effective and are starting to compete on price with open-cycle gas plants, and with other options such as pumped hydro.

Elena Giannakopoulou, Head of energy economics at BNEF said, “Our team has looked closely at the impact of the 79 per cent decrease seen in lithium-ion battery costs since 2010 on the economics of this storage technology in different parts of the electricity system. The conclusions are chilling for the fossil fuel sector.”

She added that some existing coal and gas power stations, with sunk capital costs, will continue to have a role for many years, doing a combination of bulk generation and balancing, as wind and solar penetration increase. However, the economic case for building new coal and gas capacity is crumbling, as batteries start to encroach on the flexibility and peaking revenues enjoyed by fossil fuel plants.

Source: ET

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Manu Tayal

Manu Tayal

Manu is an Associate Editor at Saur Energy International where she writes and edits clean & green energy news, featured articles and interview industry veterans with a special focus on solar, wind and financial segments.

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