Renewable energy experts have long hoped that solar and wind power would someday become the cheapest way to generate electricity, allowing the world to shift away from fossil fuel. That day has now arrived, much sooner than expected, says Faaiqa Hartley, an energy economist at the Energy Research Centre of the University of Cape Town, South Africa. It could pave the way for renewables to eventually account for the lion’s share of global electricity production, far beyond today’s 26 percent share.
Knowable Magazine spoke with Hartley, who coauthored a review on the subject in the 2019 Annual Review of Resource Economics, about what crossing this threshold means, particularly for developing countries, and about some of the new challenges that are likely to arise as the world transitions to a renewable future.
This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.