Friday, May 20, 2011

Guest Post: Koenig & Consultants Inc. Busting Renewable Energy Myths

Koenig & Consultants is a boutique management consulting company based in Toronto and Hamburg with special expertise in the area of Renewable Energy. Their work includes traditional consulting around strategy, marketing and communication for renewable energy companies. Each month they provide a "Chart of the Month" for interested clients, colleagues and friends. This is their May 2011 version. You can reach them at info@koenigconsultants.ca.

CHART OF THE MONTH - May 2011
Nuclear vs. Renewable Energy – Two Myths and the Reality

After the disaster at the Fukushima I plant in Japan a heated discussion over nuclear power and renewable energy has resumed. Before the accident, nuclear power was almost “green” due to being a non-GHG emitting form of energy – and it probably still is at least in comparison to fossil fuels. Nevertheless, the two most significant pro-nuclear power arguments in comparison to renewable energy have usually been that:
  1. it is more reliable; and
  2. it is cheaper,
With this Double Chart of the Month we would like to bust these two myths.

Source:  Paul Gipe at http://www.wind-works.org/
Chart #1 (reprinted with permission from Paul Gipe (wind-works.org)) compares Fukushima I with the wind energy production of Germany, Spain and Denmark over the last twenty years. Clearly, wind turns out to be more reliable than the nuclear. When taking a closer look at the individual reactor blocks at Fukushima I (there are six), it gets even worse. If one wind turbine needs to be shut down for maintenance … who cares? If a nuclear power plant goes out, an entire region can be in trouble.

Chart #2 addresses the price myth. Comparing the different energy forms on a fully costed basis including all costs (generation costs, government subsidies, and also external costs) as a recent study has done, reveals that nuclear power is almost twice as expensive as hydro or wind power. Solar power is still more expensive but that is rapidly changing.

The situation in Chart #2 is somewhat special to Germany with its high subsidies for nuclear and high productivity of wind. However it is clear that a similar picture will develop in other economies in the near future: There is only one direction for the development costs of traditional forms of energy encompassing longer approvals, higher fuel prices, more safety requirements and leveling off of productivity – up, up, up. For renewable energy, the opposite is true. There are huge gains to be found in the efficiency and productivity of production, approvals and free, unlimited fuel. These costs also have only one direction – down, down, down.

A small example from Ontario should illustrate this: 18 months ago, when the Green Energy and Green Economy Act was introduced, a 1kW solar PV installation on a residential house was quoted for ~$12,000. Now, anybody paying more than $ 6,500 is certainly overpaying.

Thanks Ingo, Christine and the KCI Energy Team!
~ Rob 

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