Building new solar power projects would generate cheaper electricity than running most of the world's existing coal power plants, according to a global renewable energy report.
If energy companies replaced only their most expensive coal plants with new solar power projects or onshore wind farms, totalling 500 GW globally, they could save up to $23bn (£18bn) every year and wipe out 5% of last year's total global carbon emissions, according to Irena.
The group finds that in 2021, roughly 1,200 gigawatts of coal-fired generation may have higher operating costs than the average price of new utility-scale solar.
Irena expects the cost of installing renewables to continue falling in 2021 - to $0.043 kilowatt hour for onshore wind, down 18% from 2019, and to $0.039/kWh for large photovoltaic plants, 42% lower than past year.
Electricity costs for solar and wind power have continued to fall significantly between 2010 and 2019 - by 47% for concentrated solar power, 82% for solar PV, 39% for onshore wind and 29% for offshore wind.
"Renewable investments are stable, cost-effective and attractive, offering consistent and predictable returns while delivering benefits to the wider economy".
Post-pandemic economic recovery must be a "green strategy", with renewables offering a way to align short-term policy action with medium- and long-term energy and climate goals.
The cost of solar and wind energy could be consistently cheaper than conventional supplies by 2030, Irena said in January. Electricity costs from utility-scale solar PV schemes fell 13 per cent past year, reaching an average of 6.8 cents per kilowatt-hour.
In 2019 alone, the cost of electricity from solar fell by 13% to just over five pence per kilowatt-hour.
More than half of the renewable capacity added in 2019 achieved lower power costs than the cheapest new coal plants, the report found.
In April, Irena said decarbonisation of the entire global energy system away from fossil fuels could require up to $98 trillion in investment between now and 2050.