Australian news, and some related international items

New build wind and solar energy now half the cost of nuclear

New-build wind and solar energy systems can generate electricity for up to 50 per cent cheaper than new nuclear power plants, a German study has found.

The research, commissioned by German think tank Agora Energiewende, compares feed-in tariffs for new nuclear in the UK with FiTs for renewables in Germany, and finds that nuclear and carbon capture and storage (CSS) – a technology not yet available in Europe – are both more expensive than wind and solar as energy strategies for preventing climate change.

Released this week, the study also investigates the costs of “complete power systems” using natural gas power as flexible peak load back-up – something nuclear power plants need to achieve a generation capacity that makes them economically viable, and solar and wind farms need to make up for weather-affected intermittency.

The study concludes that, “even today and under conservative assumptions,” a reliable power system based on solar PV, onshore wind and gas would be around 20 per cent cheaper than a system based on nuclear power and gas – a cost gap that was likely to widen as renewables became even more competitive.

Interestingly, the study does not even bother comparing a power generation system with high shares of coal or gas CCS – the energy mix Australia’s federal environment minister has put his weight behind – due to cost comparisons “clearly showing” it is “even less competitive (than nuclear) in comparison to PV and onshore wind.” (See chart below on orginal article.)……….

The new findings come at a time when nuclear, coal and gas come under increasing economic pressure in Germany and other parts of the world. As we reported last month, German energy giant Eon reportedly wants to bring forward the shutdown of its Grafenrheinfeld nuclear plant to spring 2015.

Nuclear and fossil fuel plants are being squeezed out of Germany by renewables, wrote Craig Morris on RenewEconomy, with RWE recently announcing plans to close one of its gas turbines near Emsland because of all the solar power being generated in the region.

“Clearly, wind and solar power are dramatically cutting into demand for conventional power, making such plants increasingly unprofitable,” Morris said. ……..

April 24, 2014 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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