The costs of electricity generating stations have been assessed by the Department for Energy & Climate Change (DECC).  They can be viewed by using Google with the search words Electricity Generating Costs.  One of the sites available and attached to www.gov.uk is the DECC report URN 12D/383 dated 2012. It includes tables for 2012 and for estimated costs at future periods.

It does not include estimates for the life of the various generating plant, that of course can have a massive impact on the overall cost.  For example, many of the existing coal fired and nuclear power stations have been in operation for in excess of 40 years.  I am sure that unless the environmentalists manage to completely demonise any station that produces CO2, that the present gas fired stations will have a similar lifespan.

Contrary to this the wind turbines supposedly have a 20 year lifespan, but some that have been in service just 10 years are having to be replaced already.  Similarly solar panels are rated as degrading to 80% of output over a 20 year period. 

The Department of Energy and Climate Change is by its very nature a prominent driver of the carbon taxing program, continuing to claim that CO2 is causing global warming, when data is now showing that despite steadily rising CO2 levels that the climate has NOT warmed in the last 17 years.  Artic and Antarctic ice levels are growing not declining.  The tiny amount of sea level rise during the last century is even slowing down.  Frankly the taxing of CO2 to force the discontinuation of the use of fossil fuels is becoming unsustainable.

Cost estimate for conventional fuel burning stations, £/MWh, in 2012.

PROJECT COSTING

Gas

Coal 1

Coal 2

Nuclear

Pre Development

0

0

1

5

Capital construction

9

22

26

55

Fixed operating & maintenance

4

5

7

11

Variable operating & maintenance

0

1

1

3

Running fuel cost

49

28

30

5

Carbon cost

18

45

56

TOTAL INCLUDING CARBON

80

102

122

81

TOTAL EXCLUDING CARBON

62

57

66

81

Types of generating stations are;-

  • Combined cycle gas turbine, (CCGT) for gas.
  • Advanced super critical with flue gas desulphurisation, (ASC with FGD) for Coal 1.
  • Integrated gasification combined cycle, (IGCC), turn coal into gas initially, for Coal 2.
  • First of a kind, (FOAK), new design reactors for Nuclear.

Cost estimate for wind and solar stations, £/MWh, in 2012.

PROJECT COSTING

Onshore 1

Onshore 2

Offshore R2

Offshore R3

Solar

Pre Development

2

2

4

6

Capital construction

71

79

81

91

143

Fixed operating & maintenance

17

19

32

37

26

Variable operating & maintenance

3

3

TOTAL

93

104

118

134

169

  •  Onshore 1 is for installations of on the mainland with peak capacity greater than 5MW.
  • Onshore 2 is for installations described as Onshore E&W, greater than 5MW.
  • Offshore R2 refers to the second round of wind farm construction, up to 2009.
  • Offshore R3 refers to the third round of wind farm construction, from 2009.

The cost estimate for wind farms does not reflect the true costs nor does it take into account the carbon dioxide produced during production, construction and ongoing maintenance. This has been estimated elsewhere to be greater per kWhr than conventional stations during the lifetime of wind farms. So the DECC comparisons are NOT like-for-like.

The cost is estimated against the peak capacity rating of the farms, whereas during 2013, which was particularly windy, especially during December, the average generation just about reached 20% of capacity.  This means in effect that the cost per average generation unit should really be 5 times the peak cost.

Real cost of wind farms 2012.

Type of installation Onshore 1 Onshore 2 Offshore R2 Offshore R3
Cost £/kWh

465

520

590

670

Real cost of conventional, £/kWh 2012.

Type of installation

Gas CCGT

Coal ASC

Coal IGCC

Nuclear

Cost £/ kWh

62

57

66

81

Looking at the figures, there is absolutely no justification for the continued construction of wind farms except due to fanatical environmentalism.  Even the cost of solar arrays at £169/kWh is over twice as expensive as nuclear. If the lifetimes of renewables is based on 20 years whereas conventional stations are likely to be 40 years then these figures are worse still be another factor of two!

Long term our sources of natural gas will decline if the same fanatical environmentalists succeed in demonising fracking.  Then supplies of gas will be at the mercy of our continental European and Russian ‘friends’.  Our sources of coal are still extensive and readily available and not at the whim of foreigners.  Nuclear stations ideally should be constructed in conjunction with non-European partners so that we are not reliant on the EU in any way. 

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