November 25, 2020

The plummeting prices of renewable energy come with hidden costs

2 min read

The low prices of renewable energy globally have made it more affordable than electricity produced from fossil fuels. However, the cost of fusing the renewable energy mix to an electric grid is high due to its diversity. Researchers are still analyzing the possible price of putting renewable energy into an electric grid to facilitate its distribution to consumers. Imperial College London’s Philip Heptonstall and Robert Gross have evaluated the cost of supplying renewable energy to an electric grid for transmission. The two scientists concluded that this process’s real cost is either complicated or depends on other variables in the energy mix. Nevertheless, this cost is still low compared to utilizing fossil fuels to generate electricity.

The two scientists classified the added costs of renewable energy into three classes. First is the dynamic nature of weather patterns risking the estimated cost of a continuous supply. Next is renewable energy’s capacity to overcome the peak demand period considering there will be days when the weather will be unfavorable. Finally, the cost of infusing renewable energy into the current grid may exceed the available capacity. The last variable is of less importance considering many offshore wind power projects are close to metropolitan areas. Therefore, it is hard to fix a figure required to generate renewable energy since these factors may vary depending on renewable energy sources’ location.

For instance, nuclear power plants find their way far from cities to avoid the catastrophic effects that come with them in case of accidents. On the other hand, hydroelectric power depends on the water source’s physical location, making the cost of its integration into the national grid dependent on entirely different factors. Wind and solar energy can surpass fossil fuels if their potential comes out wholly. A study by Heptonstall and Gross identified the UK market as one where these two renewable sources have successfully attempted this noble course. Nevertheless, the UK is also bracing itself for higher costs of generating renewable energy to supplement the coal-fired electricity plants, stopping their operations from paving the way for the uptake of renewables.

Nonetheless, the prices of renewable energy will plummet once their full potential is visible. Additionally, renewables’ price assures that the world would be approaching net-zero carbon emissions since the costs being paid for champion eco-friendliness. To conclude, a flexible grid, high accessibility to renewables, and the availability of storage facilities for this energy will meet the electricity demands when they arise. The pursuance of these technologies to the latter will demonstrate the efficiency of renewable energy and its affordability.

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