As the cost of renewable energy has come down and the costs of fossil fuels have gone up, investing in renewable energy is becoming a no-brainer. That’s according to the World Economic Forum (WEF), which observed in its latest report that, among other things, renewable energy sources are increasingly less expensive than fossil fuels and green power bonds are returning 6 percent.
Last week WEF introduced its latest report on investing in renewable energy: “Renewable Infrastructure Investment Handbook: A Guide for Institutional Investors.” The organization called on institutional investors to invest more into green energy observing that investments still remain below what is needed to reach the Paris Accord targets.
“Renewable energy has reached a tipping point—it now constitutes the best chance to reverse global warming,” said Michael Drexler, head of Long Term Investing, Infrastructure and Development at the World Economic Forum. “Solar and wind have just become very competitive, and costs continue to fall. It is not only a commercially viable option but an outright compelling investment opportunity with long-term, stable, inflation-protected returns.”
The Switzerland-based nonprofit’s handbook found that returns of investment on bonds and equity show the increased value of investing in renewables, and that project investments are better than investing in green bond indices. “For instance, the S&P Green Bond Index has returned -0.5 percent annually over the last 3 years, while the more appropriate S&P Green Project Bond Index has returned close to 6% annually,” the handbook found.
Similarly equity investments are showing significant returns of investment. “Before 2013, when renewable technologies were still largely uncompetitive, solar and wind average annual returns were -11 percent and -6 percent respectively. After the turning point in technology, returns jumped to 10 percent and 17 percent.”
Despite the changes in returns, more needs to be done. “Current investments trends still fall about 60 percent short of what is needed to meet the Paris Accord goals by 2030,” WEF said.
The report also showed how much the costs of renewable energy have come down. The cost of generating electricity from renewable energy like wind and solar is now at roughly on par or lower than generating power from fossil fuel-based electricity, which costs roughly $100 per megawatt hour. It said that solar is now at roughly $100 per megawatt hour and wind power $50 megawatt per hour or below that of coal and natural gas, the handbook finds. However, solar power projects are already coming in at lower costs, even in developed nations like the US. The Springbok Solar Farm 2 in California, for instance, is providing levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) of between $35 to $38 per megawatt hour.
The nonprofit also noted the steep decline in solar power prices over the last decade. “Just 10 years ago, solar costs would be around $600 per megawatt hour,” it said.
The organization attributed much of the reduced costs to increases in generating efficiency. “Solar panel efficiency has jumped from 15 percent to 22 percent, research cells have reached 46 percent, while wind turbine efficiency grew from 25 percent to 50 percent,” WEF noted. “Combined with economies of scale, solar panel costs compressed 80 percent since 2009, while wind turbine costs dropped 30 percent in 3 years.”
The report analyzed return on investment data on renewable energy and efficiency from a variety of sources including Open Energy Information, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, S&P Indices and UNEP and other sources.Tweet