Dubious claims on cost of wind energy rebuffed by EWEA CEO

Recently I wrote a letter to the Financial Times (published 16 May) on the costs of nuclear power compared to renewable technologies. My purpose in writing was to correct a statement which Steve Radley, Director of Policy at EEF (a UK manufacturers organisation), made in a letter published in the Financial Times 11 May.

In it Radley claimed that “most renewable energy technologies are likely to remain considerably more expensive than alternative forms of low-carbon generation such as nuclear energy”. This is misleading because – although nuclear may or may not be cheaper than some less developed renewable energy sources – wind turbines accounts for over 70% of renewable energy capacity installed in Europe in the last decade.

A more relevant question is – which costs more: nuclear power or wind energy? Onshore wind farm power is already cheaper than nuclear-generated power. Onshore wind power costs significantly less than the cost of constructing a new nuclear power station, and that is without the cost of the additional safety measures that will no doubt follow Fukushima.

Radley’s statement, he says, refers to the Committee on Climate Change report published last week in the UK. Yet in this same report, it says that the cost of onshore wind farm is lower than nuclear in 2011, and will still be lower in 2020, 2030 and 2040.

In the letter I also point out that wind energy developers in Turkey are now signing power purchase agreements on market terms at one-third of the price of the winning bid in a 2009 public tender for new nuclear power in Turkey – at approximately €0.07 per kilowatt hour, compared to €0.21 per kWh.

The evidence points to this: not only is onshore wind power cheaper than nuclear, its costs will decrease over the coming years, whereas the costs of nuclear will not.

 By Christian Kjaer, blog.ewea.org/