New study shows steep decrease in renewable energy costs with no signs of slowing: ‘Technological progress provides a ray of hope’

There is good news on the horizon for solar and battery storage: It is becoming more and more affordable. According to a study released by Germany’s Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC), the cost of solar power has dropped 87% and battery storage by 85% in the past decade, as Electrek reports.

Although these two were the primary areas of inquiry, the think tank further notes that wind power, heat pumps, and other clean energy technologies are also seeing a dramatic price drop.

The reasons for this increased affordability are numerous, including technological advancements that make both generation and storage more efficient. In addition, private and public entities have continued to back solar incentives to keep global temperatures from reaching the threshold of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) of increase above preindustrial times.

Currently, battery storage costs less than $100 per kilowatt-hour, which is already less than the price that was predicted for 2030, per Electrek. And the prices are expected to decrease as technology continues to increase efficiency.

Batteries are important because they allow for the storage of energy generated by renewable sources, allowing entities to utilize the energy when it isn’t sunny enough for solar panels or there’s not enough wind to turn a turbine. It will also allow things that feed off the energy grid, like electric vehicles and homes, to source their energy from stored renewable sources.

Based on the information shared in the study, experts expect 63,000 terawatt-hours of solar energy to be globally available in 2050, reports Electrek. This is twice the amount of energy that is supplied by coal today. Considering that one terawatt-hour can power 70,000 homes for a year, according to Duke Energy, this amount could power more than 4.4 billion homes for a year.

“Greenhouse gas emissions are higher than ever, and the measures taken so far are too weak, but in this politically difficult situation, technological progress provides a ray of hope,” said study co-author Jan Minx, reports Electrek. “New scenario models, some of which are starting to be explored, are likely to demonstrate in the foreseeable future that the global climate transition might not be as expensive as previously assumed, and may even be cost saving — provided it is finally tackled.”

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