Renewable energies are becoming globally more competitive. And an increasing number of studies are showing they have an economical edge, especially if environmental and health costs are taken into account.
Deutsche Welle, 30 Jan 2015
In Germany there is much discussion around renewable energies and cost. Fans of conventional energy sources hope to slow the rapid expansion of wind and solar power since, they say, the cost of renewable energies is too high.
The forum Green Budget Germany (FÖS) has now put forward a comprehensive study that compared all power technologies in Germany, including all known costs. Germany's energy cooperative Greenpeace Energy had commissioned the study.
Things considered were overall expenses, as well as "other effects from using conventional energies including costly consequences - for example, environmental and climate damage," said study leader Swantje Küchler from FÖS.
In the case of nuclear power, the damages after a possible nuclear accident were also taken into account. So far, the risks for large accidents worldwide have been carried by the general public, as power plant operators usually don't have the appropriate liability insurance.
Most bang for your buck
In the overall assessment, wind and solar power gave the most bang for your buck, according to calculations by FÖS. In 2014 electricity from wind and large solar power plants cost Germany between five and 10 euro cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). In contrast, the cost of electricity from natural gas, coal or lignite power plants was distinctly higher - between 11 to 17 cents per kWh.
Particularly expensive in comparison was nuclear power. Even though no new nuclear power plants will be built in Germany, with the last reactors expected to shut down in 2022, scientists contemplated the cost of nuclear energy from fictitious new power plants. That, plus the potential harms to the environment and human health arising from accidents, raised the total cost of nuclear power to between 19 to 50 cents per kWh.
A need for transparency
Energy scientists from other institutions felt vindicated by the study.
"The results are basically consistent with our studies, which show that conventional energies are significantly more expensive than renewables," said Claudia Kemfert of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW).
|Swantje Küchler introduces|
the FÖS studie in Berlin.
Consequently, experts are calling for honesty and transparency in the debate, in which all costs should be taken into account.
"The problem is the high costs of coal and nuclear power are hidden from customers, who pay for them indirectly. We wanted to fix this grievance," said Marcel Keiffenheim of Greenpeace Energy.
Also, the study provided good evidence to "promote the development of renewable energies as soon as possible for economic reasons."
Tackling global climate change with renewables
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in Abu Dhabi arrived at similar results in its most recent study Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2014. They found the generation of electricity from fossil fuels took a toll on human health and climate and added up to 11 cents per kWh.
|IRENA is headquartered in|
oil-rich Abu Dhabi.
Since the cost of renewables in recent years has plunged worldwide, there is now "a historic opportunity to build a clean and sustainable energy supply and, therefore, prevent catastrophic climate change in an affordable way," according to Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General of IRENA.
At the same time, the march to renewables created "new jobs and reduced the import bills for fuels."
Above all, wind energy in many places in the world is economically competitive, often being cheaper than fossil fuels. According to an IRENA study, some windy places can already produce a kWh of power for four cents.
But the average production cost for wind power varies across regions. In China and Asia, it would cost around five or six; in North America, around six; and in Africa, around seven cents per kWh.
IRENA also saw much potential in the falling prices of solar power - particularly cheap in sunny countries. In the Middle East, operators of solar parks, or photovoltaic power stations, said they already generated electricity for five cents per kWh.
Renewables should also be helpful for the approximately 1.3 billion people who have up to now lived without electricity. According to IRENA's report, renewables in this case were the cheapest energy source, especially in comparison to diesel.
With a new online platform, the international agency hopes to strengthen the push for renewable energies, for which worldwide data are now available.
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screenshot: Georgetown University/YouTube
"Recalibration of Free Choice"– Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll) - (Subjects: (Old) Souls, Midpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”, 2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth, 4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical) 8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) - (Text version)
“… 4 - Energy (again)
The natural resources of the planet are finite and will not support the continuation of what you've been doing. We've been saying this for a decade. Watch for increased science and increased funding for alternate ways of creating electricity (finally). Watch for the very companies who have the most to lose being the ones who fund it. It is the beginning of a full realization that a change of thinking is at hand. You can take things from Gaia that are energy, instead of physical resources. We speak yet again about geothermal, about tidal, about wind. Again, we plead with you not to over-engineer this. For one of the things that Human Beings do in a technological age is to over-engineer simple things. Look at nuclear - the most over-engineered and expensive steam engine in existence!
Your current ideas of capturing energy from tidal and wave motion don't have to be technical marvels. Think paddle wheel on a pier with waves, which will create energy in both directions [waves coming and going] tied to a generator that can power dozens of neighborhoods, not full cities. Think simple and decentralize the idea of utilities. The same goes for wind and geothermal. Think of utilities for groups of homes in a cluster. You won't have a grid failure if there is no grid. This is the way of the future, and you'll be more inclined to have it sooner than later if you do this, and it won't cost as much.
We've told you that one of the greatest natural resources of the planet, which is going to shift and change and be mysterious to you, is fresh water. It's going to be the next gold, dear ones. So, we have also given you some hints and examples and again we plead: Even before the potentials of running out of it, learn how to desalinate water in real time without heat. It's there, it's doable, and some already have it in the lab. This will create inexpensive fresh water for the planet.
There is a change of attitude that is starting to occur. Slowly you're starting to see it and the only thing getting in the way of it are those companies with the big money who currently have the old system. That's starting to change as well. For the big money always wants to invest in what it knows is coming next, but it wants to create what is coming next within the framework of what it has "on the shelf." What is on the shelf is oil, coal, dams, and non-renewable resource usage. It hasn't changed much in the last 100 years, has it? Now you will see a change of free choice. You're going to see decisions made in the boardrooms that would have curled the toes of those two generations ago. Now "the worst thing they could do" might become "the best thing they could do." That, dear ones, is a change of free choice concept. When the thinkers of tomorrow see options that were never options before, that is a shift. That was number four. ….”