In the previous TCASE post, I considered how various low-carbon energy technologies meet the following criteria: commercial readiness, scalability, dispatchability, fuel constraints, load access, storage requirements, capacity factor and emissions intensity. Here I consider the next issue: cost of deployment, based on expert consensus.
The primary data again come from the work I had published in 2011 in the peer-reviewed journal Energy (with colleagues Martin Nicholson [lead author] and Tom Biegler). Cost was analysed on the basis of 15 comprehensive levelised cost of electricity studies published over the past decade. The data are as follows (see also figure above), with references given in the footnote:
(LCOE = levelised cost of electricity (in 2009 US$/MWh) — see footnotes for a more detailed explanation.)
Enthusiastic supporters of various renewable energy technologies have long made claims that all or most of the world’s electricity needs could be met with renewable energy. Our analysis point to the costs involved and hence to the reliance on future major advances on that front in order to be competitive with other, low-emission, alternatives. In our view such reliance is highly speculative and risky as part of any plan to secure future energy.