Bad news comes suddenly and out of left field. Good news unfolds so slowly it can seem as though there isn’t any. But on the timescales that really matter, today’s cost of renewable energy is suddenly much lower than it was just a few years ago.
The cost of providing electricity from wind and solar power plants has plummeted over the last five years, so much so that in some markets renewable generation is now cheaper than coal or natural gas.
Utility executives say the trend has accelerated this year, with several companies signing contracts, known as power purchase agreements, for solar or wind at prices below that of natural gas, especially in the Great Plains and Southwest, where wind and sunlight are abundant.
Utilities here and there are contracting for more wind because it’s just plain cheaper than natural-gas driven. And more progress is surely in the works.
What I take from this? We’re going to have a train wreck of a climate a century from now on any imaginable path. But there’s wrecks and there’s wrecks. The momentum of renewable energy has become unstoppable. We won’t hit the high end worst case IPCC scenarios. We’ll probably come in toward the low end.