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Majority of New Renewables Undercut Cheapest Fossil Fuel on Cost

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Solar energy - Investors King

The share of renewable energy that achieved lower costs than the most competitive fossil fuel option doubled in 2020, a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) shows. 162 gigawatts (GW) or 62 per cent of total renewable power generation added last year had lower costs than the cheapest new fossil fuel option.

Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2020 shows that costs for renewable technologies continued to fall significantly year-on-year. Concentrating solar power (CSP) fell by 16 per cent, onshore wind by 13 per cent, offshore wind by 9 per cent and solar PV by 7 per cent. With costs at low levels, renewables increasingly undercut existing coal’s operational costs too. Low-cost renewables give developed and developing countries a strong business case to power past coal in pursuit of a net-zero economy. Just 2020’s new renewable project additions will save emerging economies up to USD 156 billion over their lifespan.

“Today, renewables are the cheapest source of power,” said IRENA’s Director-General Francesco La Camera. “Renewables present countries tied to coal with an economically attractive phase-out agenda that ensures they meet growing energy demand, while saving costs, adding jobs, boosting growth and meeting climate ambition. I am encouraged that more and more countries opt to power their economies with renewables and follow IRENA’s pathway to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.”

“We are far beyond the tipping point of coal,” La Camera continued. “Following the latest commitment by G7 to net-zero and stop global coal funding abroad, it is now for G20 and emerging economies to match these measures. We cannot allow having a dual-track for energy transition where some countries rapidly turn green and others remain trapped in the fossil-based system of the past. Global solidarity will be crucial, from technology diffusion to financial strategies and investment support. We must make sure everybody benefits from the energy transition.”

The renewable projects added last year will reduce costs in the electricity sector by at least USD 6 billion per year in emerging countries, relative to adding the same amount of fossil fuel-fired generation. Two-thirds of these savings will come from onshore wind, followed by hydropower and solar PV. Cost savings come in addition to economic benefits and reduced carbon emissions. The 534 GW of renewable capacity added in emerging countries since 2010 at lower costs than the cheapest coal option are reducing electricity costs by around USD 32 billion every year.    

2010-2020 saw a dramatic improvement in the competitiveness of solar and wind technologies with CSP, offshore wind and solar PV all joining onshore wind in the range of costs for new fossil fuels capacity, and increasingly outcompeting them. Within ten years, the cost of electricity from utility-scale solar PV fell by 85 per cent, that of CSP by 68 per cent, onshore wind by 56 per cent and 48 per cent for offshore wind. With record low auction prices of USD 1.1 to 3 cents per kWh today, solar PV and onshore wind continuously undercut even the cheapest new coal option without any financial support

IRENA’s report also shows that new renewables beat existing coal plants on operating costs too, stranding coal power as increasingly uneconomic. In the United States for example, 149 GW or 61 per cent of the total coal capacity costs more than new renewable capacity. Retiring and replacing these plants with renewables would cut expenses by USD 5.6 billion per year and save 332 million tonnes of CO2, reducing emissions from coal in the United States by one-third. In India, 141 GW of installed coal is more expensive than new renewable capacity. In Germany, no existing coal plant has lower operating costs than new solar PV or onshore wind capacity.

Globally, over 800 GW of existing coal power costs more than new solar PV or onshore wind projects commissioned in 2021. Retiring these plants would reduce power generation costs by up to USD 32.3 billion annually and avoid around 3 giga tonnes of CO2 per year, corresponding to 9 per cent of global energy-related CO2 emissions in 2020 or 20 per cent of the emissions reduction needed by 2030 for a 1.5°C climate pathway outlined in IRENA’s World Energy Transitions Outlook.

The outlook till 2022 sees global renewable power costs falling further, with onshore wind becoming 20-27 per cent lower than the cheapest new coal-fired generation option. 74 per cent of all new solar PV projects commissioned over the next two years that have been competitively procured through auctions and tenders will have an award price lower than new coal power. The trend confirms that low-cost renewables are not only the backbone of the electricity system, but that they will also enable electrification in end-uses like transport, buildings and industry and unlock competitive indirect electrification with renewable hydrogen.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Energy

Power Grid Collapse Plunges Nigeria into Darkness Early Monday

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Electricity - Investors King

Nigeria was thrown into darkness once again as the nation’s power grid collapsed early Monday morning.

The collapse occurred at exactly 1:47 am, according to officials in the power sector.

The incident coincides with heightened tensions as the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) commenced an indefinite workers’ strike to demand a new national minimum wage.

The strike, which began Monday, has raised concerns about the potential for further disruptions across various sectors of the economy.

In response to the strike, Lateef Fagbemi, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, criticized the labor unions’ actions.

In a letter dated June 1, 2024, Fagbemi stated that the strike violated a subsisting National Industrial Court order restraining the unions from proceeding with such actions.

He said the strike could lead to significant disruptions, including the recent power grid failure.

Despite attempts by the National Assembly leaders to mediate and prevent the strike, the meeting held on Sunday night ended without a resolution.

The meeting was chaired by Senate President Godswill Akpabio and Speaker of the House of Representatives Tajudeen Abbas and attended by NLC President Joe Ajaero and TUC President Festus Osifo. The unions remained firm on their decision to proceed with the strike.

Impact on Everyday Life

The blackout has had an immediate and significant impact on millions of Nigerians, disrupting daily life and business activities.

Hospitals, schools, and businesses are struggling to cope without electricity, exacerbating an already challenging situation for many citizens.

Minister of State for Labour Nkeiruka Onyejeocha reiterated the government’s position, stating that it could not afford to pay more than N60,000 as the new minimum wage, which she noted was a 100 percent increase from the current rate.

This offer, however, has been deemed insufficient by labor leaders.

Ulterior Motives and Unfeasible Demands

Bayo Onanuga, special adviser to President Bola Tinubu on Information and Strategy, suggested that the labor unions might have ulterior motives behind their strike, criticizing the wage demands as unrealistic for both federal and state governments.

“The minimum wage offer they presented is simply not feasible given the current economic constraints,” Onanuga stated.

He urged labor leaders to reconsider their stance for the sake of national stability.

Broader Implications

The power grid collapse is not just an isolated technical failure but a reflection of deeper systemic issues within Nigeria’s energy infrastructure.

The recurring outages highlight the urgent need for comprehensive reforms in the power sector to ensure reliable and consistent electricity supply.

As the nation grapples with this latest blackout, the government and labor unions remain at an impasse, with both sides entrenched in their positions.

The outcome of this dispute will likely have far-reaching implications for Nigeria’s economic stability and growth.

In the meantime, millions of Nigerians are left to cope with the immediate fallout of the power grid collapse, hoping for a swift resolution to both the strike and the ongoing energy crisis.

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Oil Prices Stable Amid Federal Reserve’s Talk of Interest Rate Tightening

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In a landscape where global oil markets often sway with the slightest economic shifts, stability can be a rare commodity.

However, amidst discussions from the U.S. Federal Reserve regarding potential interest rate adjustments, oil prices have remained surprisingly steady.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, gained 10 cents, or 0.1% rise to $82.00 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil edged up 7 cents to $77.64 a barrel.

The Federal Reserve’s release of minutes from its recent policy meeting unveiled deliberations on the possibility of raising interest rates to combat persistent inflationary pressures.

The minutes stated, “Various participants mentioned a willingness to tighten policy further should risks to inflation materialize in a way that such an action became appropriate.”

Such discussions surrounding interest rates can have a profound impact on oil demand. Higher interest rates typically result in increased borrowing costs, potentially constraining funds that could otherwise stimulate economic growth and, consequently, oil consumption—particularly in the United States, the world’s largest oil-consuming nation.

Additionally, the Energy Information Administration’s report indicating a 1.8 million barrel rise in U.S. crude stocks last week, as opposed to an anticipated draw of 2.5 million barrels, added a layer of complexity to the market dynamics.

This unexpected increase in inventory weighed on market sentiment, despite ongoing efforts to balance supply and demand.

Furthermore, global physical crude markets have been grappling with subdued refinery demand and abundant supply, exacerbating the pressure on oil prices.

Analysts from Citi highlighted recent market softness, attributing it to weaker data encompassing rising oil inventories, tepid demand, and refinery margin weakness, compounded by the looming risk of production cuts.

Russia’s announcement that it surpassed its OPEC+ production quota in April due to “technical reasons” added another dimension to the market narrative.

The Russian Energy Ministry revealed plans to present a compensation strategy to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Secretariat shortly.

Against this backdrop, anticipation mounts ahead of the OPEC+ meeting scheduled for June 1, where crucial decisions regarding production cut levels will be deliberated.

Despite uncertainties surrounding the meeting’s outcome, industry experts foresee challenges in significantly tightening the market in the near term, potentially leading to a rollover of existing voluntary cuts.

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Electricity Subsidy Surges to N628.61bn in 2023, Discos Earn N1.08tn

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Amidst ongoing debates regarding Nigeria’s power sector and the financial dynamics surrounding it, the latest data from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has revealed significant figures concerning electricity subsidy and the earnings of power distribution companies (Discos).

According to the data obtained from NERC, the Federal Government’s expenditure on electricity subsidy soared to a staggering N628.61 billion in 2023.

This substantial subsidy expenditure indicates the government’s continued financial support to ensure electricity affordability for consumers across the nation.

Simultaneously, power distribution companies amassed a total revenue of N1.08 trillion during the same period.

This substantial revenue underscores the financial capacity of the Discos despite ongoing challenges within the power sector, including issues related to infrastructure, metering, and service delivery.

Analysis of the figures provided by NERC reveals a consistent increase in electricity subsidies throughout 2023.

In the first, second, third, and fourth quarters of the year, subsidies on power amounted to N36.02 billion, N135.23 billion, N204.6 billion, and N252.76 billion, respectively.

This steady rise in subsidy expenditure reflects the government’s commitment to bridging the gap between the cost-reflective tariff and the allowed tariff.

Conversely, power distribution companies witnessed notable revenue growth over the same period.

Despite concerns raised by consumers regarding service quality and reliability, Discos reported earnings of N247.09 billion, N267.86 billion, N267.61 billion, and N294.95 billion in the first, second, third, and fourth quarters of 2023, respectively.

This substantial revenue generation highlights the financial viability of the Discos within the current regulatory framework.

The surge in revenue by Discos has prompted calls from various stakeholders for improved service delivery and accountability within the power sector.

Consumers have expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of service provided by Discos, emphasizing the need for enhanced operational efficiency and infrastructure investment to address prevailing challenges.

In the absence of cost-reflective tariffs, the Federal Government continues to bear the burden of electricity subsidies to ensure affordability for consumers.

These subsidies primarily target power generation costs payable by Discos to the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading company, thereby supporting electricity generation and supply across the country.

Commenting on the subsidy expenditure for the fourth quarter of 2023, NERC highlighted the government’s policy to harmonize exchange rates and maintain end-user customer tariffs at approved rates.

This policy direction contributed to the increase in subsidy obligations, reflecting the government’s efforts to stabilize electricity prices amidst economic uncertainties.

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