Renewable Energy cost and performance in Europe 2016

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Comparative Renewable cost estimates and effectiveness

The US EIA have recently published comprehensive and amended comparative costing data for different electrical generation technologies in the USA.

These costings do not include the effects of subsidies and other Government market interventions and therefore provide reasonably direct comparisons of realistic costs of power generation.

The US EIA publishes these indicative costs as Base Overnight Costs in 2016 and running costs at:

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These costs are significantly lower than those announced in earlier years.  According to the US  EIA the costs of Renewables have certainly reduced.

Using the following assumptions:

  • the US EIA levellised cost data is adjusted for current gas prices in 2016
  • that the US$ and the Euro provide roughly equivalent value in their respective continents.
  • as far as comparisons are concerned fossil fuel cost are expected to remain low and competitive for the foreseeable future.
  • the assumption that the capital cost of a 1GW gas fired plant running with 87% capacity / load factor is about €1 billion, €1,000,000,000 / Gigawatt

Even so when any subsidies and support mechanisms for Renewables are eliminated, the capital and longterm costs of Weather Dependent Renewables still substantially exceed the costs of conventional Gas firing for electricity generation.  The resulting comparative values expressed as $ – € / Gigawatt are shown below:

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The above USD  EIA costings can be merged with the EurObserv’ER 2016 from the following data sources for the whole EU (28):



The level of Renewable installations for all 28 European nations is shown below.

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Consideration here is given only to the 7 major EU nations involved with renewables.

The performance of these nations in terms capacity / load factors of actually achieved electricity generation can bee seen in the graphic below.

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More details about the crucial question of capacities / load factors are provided at:



Comparative costings aggregated from the data above

Combining these dataset, the estimated capital expenditures of current Renewable installations throughout Europe amounting to about €0.55 trillion.  This investment provides about 4.5% of Europe’s generation requirement, they are distributed as follows:

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However his current level of Weather Dependent Renewable installations in Europe if maintained continuously, implies a future long term, (60 year), commitment to expenditure of some €2.3 trillion.  That sum which will provide about 4.5% of Europe’s generation requirement as follows.

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The following graphics relate the Weather Dependent Renewable Energy commitment to European populations.

The level of Renewable commitment / head of population is shown below:

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The resulting capital costs involved per head of population are thus as follows:

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The long term cost commitment per head of population for the current level of Renewable installations is as follows:

Screen Shot 2017-07-05 at 14.02.39.png

These expenditures provide about 45 Gigawatts of generation capacity about 4.5% of the total European generation requirement.  This would imply that the contribution / head of installing  1000GW of Renewable energy would be of the order of €100,000 per head for each member of European population.

The equivalent cost of providing 1000GW of generation using Gas-fired generation would be closer to €9,000 / head for the 60 year period.




The aggregate comparative costs of current Weather dependent installations in Europe are summarised  here.

A realistic estimate of Gas Fired generation costs is ~$/€1,000,000,000/GW.  This value can be used for comparative valuations of the other generation technologies.  It is important to note that the time taken to install a gas fired installation is only about 2 years from inception to production.

When compared to using Gas-Firing the following table shows the effective comparisons:

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Both capital and long term costs are substantially higher for Weather Dependent Renewables when compared with Gas-fired power generation:

  • ~7 times higher for Onshore Wind Power
  • ~23 – 21 times higher for Offshore Wind Power
  • ~20 – 22 times hisgher for Solar PV on grid
  • ~11 times higher for Renewables overall in Europe

The full electricity generation requirement of Europe is about 1000 Gigawatts, this could be reinstalled with Gas-fired electricity generation using local Fracked Gas for a total sum of about ~€1 trillion with roughly ~ €4.5 trillion in 60 year long-term costs.

The overnight capital cost of the current Weather Dependent Renewables is ~€0.5 trillion and this investment produces about 4.5% of the European electricity requirement.

Therefore  to re-equip the European electricity production with Weather Dependent Renewables would cost in the region of €11 trillion of capital costs.  That capital expenditure would imply longterm (60 year) forward commitment of about €50 trillion.  This figure is about three times the annual GDP of the entire European Union (28).  These  numbers take into account the reduced costs reported for Renewables.


Note that none of these comparisons account for the inevitable intermittency, non-dispatchability and unreliability inherent in the performance of Weather Dependent Renewables.


If the objectives of using Renewables were not confused with possibly “saving the planet” from the output of Man-made CO2, the actual cost in-effectiveness and inherent unreliability of Weather Dependent Renewables would have always ruled them out of any consideration as means of electricity generation for a developed economy.

Truly an

“An Appalling Delusion”

as the late Professor David Mackay confirmed in his final interview.


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