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15 Oct 2019, 12:24
Freja Eriksen

Solar and wind expansion could save German society costs - analysis

Clean Energy Wire

Every additional kilowatt hour (kWh) of conventional energy replaced by solar and wind power in 2020 would on average save German society 9.7 cents when taking into account external costs, shows an analysis by the think tank Green Budget Germany (FÖS), commissioned by renewable power provider Greenpeace Energy. The analysis estimates the total costs of power production through hard coal, lignite and natural gas compared to PV solar and wind, factoring in external costs not included in the power price, which society must instead pay. External costs derived from the use of conventional energies could e.g. arise from the loss of land and harvests due to climate change or health problems caused by air pollutants. The study uses the Federal Environment Agency's estimate of each energy source's external costs, concluding that every kWh generated through conventional energy would cost German society an average of 17.2 cents. Meanwhile, every additional kWh generated with wind and solar power would only cost society 7.5 cents. The study, however, does not take into account the costs of e.g. infrastructure expansion, which would be necessary in the longer term for the switch to renewable energy.

Discussion about the price tag for Germany’s energy transition is one of the project’s most controversial aspects – and estimates on how much money the country will eventually have to invest in the shift to renewables and the good-bye to nuclear power vary significantly.

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