Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Cheap Energy Vs Safe Energy : Analysing the Various Energy Sources in Terms of Cost

Many people always ask the question which is the most cost effective energy source or which is the safest; coal, gas, hydro, or nuclear?. 

Many people wonder why solar or wind which are green ( environmentally safe ) are not widely used relative to hydro and other forms and nuclear which poses a great threat ( weapons and meltdowns ) is still growing in use. Well, after reading you will have an idea.

Comparing Per Kilowatt-Hour Cost Estimates for Multiple Types of Energy Production

Most Cost Effective Form of Energy Production

Bar graph comparing the total cost of electricity production per kWh between Nuclear, Coal, Natural Gas, Wind, Solar, and Hydro.
Hydroelectric is the most cost effective at $0.03 per kWh. Hydroelectric production is naturally limited by the number of feasible geographic locations and the huge environmental infringement caused by the construction of a dam. Nuclear and coal are tied at $0.04 per kWh. This comes as a bit of a surprise because coal is typically regarded as the cheapest form of energy production. Another surprise is that wind power ($0.08 per kWh) came in slightly cheaper than natural gas ($0.10 per kWh). Solar power was by far the most expensive at $0.22 per kWh—and that only represents construction costs because I could not find reliable data on production costs. Also, there is a higher degree of uncertainty in cost with wind and solar energy due to poor and varying data regarding the useful life of the facilities and their capacity factors. For this analysis the average of the data points are used in the calculations.
Three coal plant projects were used ranging from 300 to 960 MW. The construction costs of these coal plants ranged from $1.2 to $4 billion, which are less in total dollars than new nuclear ranging from $5 to $9 billion. However, due to nuclear’s higher capacity factor and larger MW rating, the per kWh construction cost of the coal plants ($0.016 to $0.019) is similar to new nuclear plants ($0.014 to $0.024).

For more info on how this results were gotten, click here