By Sarah Lozanova
The average cost of electricity from wind and solar energy could drop by 26 to 59 percent, according to a new report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The report, entitled The Power to Change: Solar and Wind Cost Reduction Potential to 2025, finds policy framework and the regulatory environment to be key unknown factors in the future cost of electricity from wind and solar energy.
The report explores the global weighted average levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) of different forms of renewable energy today and in the near future. The LCOE of solar photovoltaic (PV) for example fell by 58 percent from 2010 to 2015, making it more competitive at the utility scale. The estimated LCOE in 2025 is expected to be a mere 6 cents per kilowatt-hour for solar PV and 5 cents for onshore wind energy.
Although concentrating solar power (CSP) and offshore wind energy are “in their deployment infancy,” falling costs have already made them attractive in some markets with an LCOE of 15 cents and 18 cents per kWh respectively, IRENA found.
The fashion industry is said to be the second dirtiest industry in the world, second only to big oil. When most of us think of pollution, we think of auto exhaust, factories, or power plants — not our clothing. In fact, cotton production is plagued by environmental and social issues. The scale of the issue is immense, with 150 million tons of clothing are sold worldwide every year, with the majority ending up in landfills. Cotton must be cultivated, traded, dyed, sewn, and shipped before it ends up on our backs — each with its associated pollution and potential social consequences. Major fashion retailer H&M is on a mission to save your fashion from ending up in landfills, and its closed-loop textile recycling initiative with I:CO is the first step in doing so.
Cotton is a demanding crop. It can require 20,000 liters of water to produce just one t-shirt or pair of jeans. Most cotton is grown on irrigated land to satiate the needs of this thirsty crop, which can threaten water security in some areas. Although a mere 2.4% of cropland cultivates cotton, it accounts for 24% and 11% of the world’s pesticide and insecticide use respectively. In addition, the dying process is both energy and very chemically intensive. Discharge water contaminated with chemicals from the dying produces threatens waterways and fresh water supplies. To top it off, the garment industry in general is tremendously wasteful, as most clothing is not recycled and rather ends up in landfills. So many resources go into clothing with only one life.
Freelance renewable energy writer