Renewable energy is now cheaper than energy from fossil fuels

Hi, this is Mirko, co-founder and chairman of Datawrapper. This week, we look at a big story: One line crossing another.

There is a disruptive change happening in the global energy sector: Renewable energy is now cheaper than fossil fuels, without subsidies. That means that renewable energy is not only the more desirable form of generating energy, but also the most economic. Market forces are now in favor of it.

Photovoltaic solar is leading this trend, but other forms of renewable energy are on the same path. Even batteries, which are essential to store electricity when there is no sun or wind, are getting better and cheaper at the same time.

That’s a good reason to be optimistic. Humanity might solve the challenge of harvesting an abundant energy from the sun, wind, and water. If things evolve further, we might experience a virtuous circle towards more energy capacity, at lower costs for each of us. About a billion people who do not have access to electricity might be connected, finally. Developing countries in regions with a lot of sunshine could make a leap forward. There even might be a path to avoid further global warming.

The need for deep-data reporting

I found one aspect about this story really troubling: How come that the information that renewable energy is now the best option is not bigger news? Many articles were reporting about it, but somehow it hasn’t gotten the headlines it deserves.

Given the flood of information, how come we miss stories like this?

I would argue: We need more deep reporting, more use of available data. Information is available, but usually on sites for experts. While the old model of news reporting is under pressure – in terms of value and business model – there is an evolving need and rising demand for in-depth, data-driven reporting. Call it a translation service of complex developments into what those mean for you and me. The simple crossing of cost lines above is an example: Small change, huge implications.

To learn more about how renewables overtake fossil fuels, I recommend watching a talk by former technology manager, book author, and investor in renewable energy, Ramez Naan. It’s called “Future of Energy”[1]. Chart by chart, data point by data point, he tells the story of what is going on in the energy sector. It’s 45 minutes long and worth your time. We’ll see you next week!

  1. Naan gave this talk in different places like South Africa or Portugal, each time with some adaptation to the geographic location. The link leads to a talk he gave in Thailand in June 2019.