Wind and PV 'beat nuclear, CCS'

Solar and wind power in Europe are already cheaper than nuclear or Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) plants, even if the need for back-up capacity plants is factored in, a study by Prognos AG on behalf of the Agora Energiewende think-tank says.

Agora Energiewende is owned by the Mercator foundation and the European Climate Foundation

“New wind and solar power plants can produce electricity up to 50% cheaper than new nuclear power plants,” says Patrick Graichen, director of Agora Energiewende.

The think-tank comes to that conclusion by comparing current German feed-in tariffs for wind and PV with those offered for new nuclear in the UK under the Hinkley Point C agreement. The comparison doesn’t consider future cost reductions, Agora adds.

For CCS, no real cost figures are currently available since the technology is still in its demonstration phase, and first commercial plants aren’t expected to be operational before 2020.

But latest studies estimate CCS plants to cost about as much as new nuclear power or more, the think-tank claims.

If the costs for a system of gas-fired reserve capacity for volatile solar and wind energy is factored in, a “reliable electricity supply” through wind and solar plants combined with gas is still 20% cheaper than a nuclear-based electricity supply, the study finds.

“The competition for an economical CO2-free electricity generation has been decided,” Graichen states.

“Wind and solar energy in the future will leave their mark on the power system of more and more countries of the world. Germany together with other pioneering regions as a laboratory for the world can show that a stable and economical power supply can be built up on the basis of wind and solar energy.”