November 11, 2005

Renewable Energy and Electricity

Very interesting briefing paper put out February 2005 by the Uranium Information Center Ltd. of Australia.

It talks about various types of renewable energy sources, their costs and their drawbacks. Solar & wind are often discussed as alternatives to replace coal-fired, gas, oil and nuclear power plants but the drawback is that because they're not reliable for most countries, that is, we can't predict the wind output accurately and solar isn't always available, these sources need to be backed up by other conventional power sources (the ones we're trying to get rid of). Because of this, they mention that...
In a March 2004 report Eurelectric and the Federation of Industrial Energy Consumers in Europe pointed out that "Introducing renewable energy unavoidably leads to higher electricity prices. Not only are production costs substantially higher than for conventional energy, but in the case of intermittent energy sources like wind energy, grid extensions and additional balancing and back-up capacity to ensure security of supply imply costs which add considerably to the end price for the final consumer." "Reducing CO2 by promoting renewable energy can thus become extremely expensive for consumers," though both organisations fully support renewables in principle.
That's not to say that we should give up on renewables but we have to be realistic in how much of the grid can actually be replaced by them and be prepared for the additional cost until (or if) renewables become efficient enough or new ones emerge to drop the cost significantly.


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