Wind is the Cheapest Power Source in the World, Report Says

Electricity generated by wind farms might just be the cheapest in the world. IF, that is, you take into account the myriad costs that polluting energy sources like coal impose on public health. Those costs, after all, are very real: we're just so used to giving the coal, oil, and gas industries a free ride that they seem not to belong in the equation. The cost of electricity is the number that shows up on our monthly utility bill, and that's that, we think. Not so: those fossil fuel industries produce plenty of pollution that adversely impacts the public at large — and pay zilch for it.

Anywho, the grist for restating this fact — I've discussed the true cost of fossil fuels in various posts here, as well as on certain cable TV shows — is a study from German researchers highlighted by Deutsche Welle that concludes that wind is the cheapest power source in the world.

From the report:

Many people find it difficult to calculate the true cost of their electricity. Special duties, taxes and subsidies all add up to influence prices, not to mention the environmental and health costs that aren't included in the final calculations ...

According to GBG's findings, the least expensive energy sources worldwide are currently wind and solar power. One kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity produced by wind power stations on the coast or in the countryside costs an average of 0.07 euro (about $0.09).

Solar is more expensive, both because of actual production costs and because of the environmental damage done in the name of mining silicon. The report claims that "New solar energy plants in central and southern Europe produce electricity for an average of 0.14 euro per kWh. In Germany, the cost is about 0.18 euro when using rooftop solar panels, while in southern European solar parks it costs about 0.10 euro per kWh."

Meanwhile, nuclear power is 0.20 euro, because of the omnipresent risk of nuclear meltdowns like the one that occurred in Fukushima. And then we come to coal. Coal, which until recently generated half of the United States' electricity, costs an additional 0.09 euros per kWh, due to the enormous burden it places on the public health sector and the environment.

In other words, electricity generated from wind power is cheaper per kilowatt hour than just the additional costs of coal-fired power alone, invisible though they may be. But combine those health and environmental costs with what you're actually paying on your utility bill, and wind gets cheaper by a long shot.

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