The ever-growing quest to make the greenest choices is a worldwide phenomenon. And, while scientists, researchers, and advocates are working towards bringing down the costs, one might wonder what the cheapest energy source is?
The factors like increased awareness of the harmful effects of climate change and technological advances have contributed to the lowering of prices of renewable energy sources. In this context, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) published a report earlier in the year highlighting that the cost of renewables was falling swiftly and that it would consistently be a cheaper electricity source in comparison to the traditional fuels.
Solar and Wind
In 2017, the IRENA Renewable Power Generation Costs reports highlighted that the cheapest energy sources were solar and onshore wind. It was reported that the wind turbine prices were set at an average cost of $0.06 per kWh. And, some schemes were $0.04 per kWh. Meanwhile, the electricity generation based on fossil fuels were said to fall in a price ranging from $0.05 to $0.17 per kWh.
The prices have declined over the years, which can be attributed to extensive research and investment into renewable sources. Meanwhile, IRENA has highlighted that within the next two years, solar and wind projects would be able to deliver electricity for around $0.03 per kWh.
Tidal power is considered a more expensive renewable energy source. And, currently is said to be around ten times more costly than established renewables like wind and solar. In the context of high costs, many tidal projects have been scrapped and recently in January, the UK Government rejected plans for a £1.3bn project attributing it to be expensive in comparison to alternatives like offshore wind farms and nuclear power.
The expense of tidal projects is chiefly due to the sector being in the early stages of development in comparison to wind and solar. And, advocates of tidal power stress that the construction costs, though high have the lowest operation and maintenance costs.
Extra Storage Costs
The energy sources are infinite and free, but the materials and equipment required to store, collect and transport the energy place extra costs on these sources. According to sources, the cost of batteries and inverters when added to utility-scale PVs for around ten hours of storage increases the price from $46 per MWh to $82. In this context, experts believe that the high price of batteries would prevent renewables from completely overtaking traditional power generation sources.
As scientists and developers continue to explore alternative energy avenues, it is evident that newer and cheaper alternative energy sources could be just around the corner.