Onshore wind energy is the cheapest form of energy in Europe, when additional factors such as the costs of pollution and climate change are taken into account, a leaked EU report has revealed.
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The interim paper – seen by the Guardian – calculates that onshore wind costs being roughly €105 (£83) per MW/h of energy generated. Coal, on the other hand, can cost up to around €233 (£185) per MW/h, thanks to “external costs” such as the health impacts of emissions.
Meanwhile nuclear, offshore wind and solar energy all cost around €125 (£99.30) per MW/h.
While renewable energy sources are widely believed to be more expensive due to subsidies, needed to support the less established industry, these external prices are also paid by the public.
In 2012, the report estimates that these costs added up to between €150 billion and €310 billion (£119-245.9bn).
“This report highlights the true cost of Europe’s dependence on fossil fuels. Renewables are regularly denigrated for being too expensive and a drain on the taxpayer,” said Justin Wilkes, deputy CEO of the European Wind Energy Association.
“Not only does the commission’s report show the alarming cost of coal but it also presents onshore wind as both cheaper and more environmentally-friendly.”
Noting that renewables have significant scope for cost reduction, unlike established fuels such as coal, Wilkes called for the subsidies given to fossil fuels to be scrapped.
“We are heavily subsidising the dirtiest form of electricity generation while proponents use coal’s supposed affordability as a justification for its continued use. The irony is that coal is the most expensive form of energy in the European Union,” he added.
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