Renewable Electricity: Insights for the Coming Decade

Camila Stark, Jeffrey Logan, Shengru Zhou, Jacquelyn Pless

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


A sophisticated set of renewable electricity (RE) generation technologies is now commercially available. Globally, RE captured approximately half of all capacity additions since 2011. The cost of RE is already competitive with fossil fuels in some areas around the world, and prices are anticipated to continue to decline over the next decade. RE options, led by wind and solar, are part of a suiteof technologies and business solutions that are transforming electricity sectors around the world. Renewable deployment is expected to continue due to: increasingly competitive economics; favorable environmental characteristics such as low water use, and minimal local air pollution and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; complementary risk profiles when paired with natural gas generators; strongsupport from stakeholders. Despite this positive outlook for renewables, the collapse in global oil prices since mid-2014 and continued growth in natural gas supply in the United States--due to the development of low-cost shale gas--raise questions about the potential impacts of fossil fuel prices on RE. Today, oil plays a very minor role in the electricity sectors of most countries, so directimpacts on RE are likely to be minimal (except where natural gas prices are indexed on oil). Natural gas and RE generating options appear to be more serious competitors than oil and renewables. Low gas prices raise the hurdle for RE to be cost competitive. Additionally, although RE emits far less GHG than natural gas, both natural gas and RE offer the benefits of reducing carbon relative to coaland oil (see Section 4.1 for more detail on the GHG intensity of electricity technologies). However, many investors and decision makers are becoming aware of the complementary benefits of pairing natural gas and renewables to minimize risk of unstable fuel prices and maintain the reliability of electricity to the grid.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages92
StatePublished - 2015

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-6A50-63604


  • China renewable energy
  • CSP
  • futures
  • LCOE
  • PV
  • RE generation
  • renewable electricity
  • renewable energy technology
  • solar power
  • wind power


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