Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wind and Solar Too Cheap to Meter - Nuclear Too Expensive to Think About

Wind power can create a situation where "power is too cheap to meter"  Photo: Jukka Seppälä/Creator's Fingerprints

In 1950ies and 1960ies they told us that nuclear power would be so cheap that by now it should be too cheap to meter.


This scenario turned out to be ultra-optimistic and the real costs of nuclear power are very difficult to count but are far from free power. In fact it seems that if all costs are combined (planning, construction, running, back up systems, accidents, health consequences, nuclear waste, decomissioning and clear weapons proliferation) then nuclear power is the most expensive way of power generating.

LINK -  DW :

But wait a minute - could there be energy sources that generate power almost without costs?
In fact, none. But if you think about old hydro power, wind or solar PV, you have no fuel costs. Only the payback of investement of constructing, transformers and the grid. And maintenance costs. Well, thats a lot of money. But when you have paid the investment, the price of energy remains low. For example the low price of hydro power is pulling down prices on Nordic power market. When the new wind parks will be starting their power generating, the price will be going further downwards.

And last summer - yes it's true - the power price in Germany was almost zero during windy, sunny days. Those moments were short, but they did exist. Wind power combined with solar PV capacity was creating a situation "too cheap to meter". Still the consumers payed full price for their power but this event shows the direction for the future. Many studies have shown out that renewable energy can offer power with lower prices than our coal-nuclear power plants do today.


So we have a clean and sustainable and economical way to go. Let's take the renewables seriously!



  1. Regardless of the cost to the power companies, it will never be free for the consumer. Even if the electricity is free for them, the cost of overhead, maintenance, profit, ect will be transferred to the consumers.

    I live in a small town in the US. Our state has spent hundreds of millions on wind energy, promising a cheaper electrical bill. Instead, our rates have been raised 2x since. 1x for the cost of building the wind farms, and 1x for the possibility that they may build a nuclear plant somewhere in the future (makes no sense huh?)

    Though I may sound like I'm against wind and solar, I'm not. In fact I'm the opposite. I don't care if the cost of solar and wind energy is 5x the cost of coal, it's still worth it. For every coal/petroleum plant that gets decomissioned due to solar or wind replacement, the costs associated with it are worth it regardless.

  2. Hi, Green Iowa Energy! And Thanks for your comment!

    It's true that power companies always get their profits and the energy will be expensive for the customers, especially average citizens. But what I meant pointing out this new situation where power prices collapse because of overproduction caused by windfarms and distributed solar PV-plants in Germany, creates for the first time in history a power business industry where the price for electric power is practically zero in the summer afternoons, despite of high consumption. Nuclear power couldn't fullfill that promise and at least for me it is surprizing that renewables have already done it in Europe.
    But for the consument the only way to get your power cheap is to invest in renewable power generation. I just discussed with one specialist in Finland who claimed a solar-PV investment to be paying back your money in five to ten years now in Finland. After that you'll get profit for 10-20 years.

    Germans have found out this to be profitable and they have bought big wind generators by groups of individuals (30-80 people) or then little villages have established wind parks earning huge sums after a few years and been able to build new schools, kindergartens etc.

    Over 90 % of Germanys solar-PV power is generated in small rooftop PV-plants, owned by individuals or shops and little companies. Still on summer afternoons they sometimes produce more than 50% of all the electic power of Germany with solar-PV.

    But this all requires a positive environment for renewable energy generation by the state and politicians. Germany is now showing how to do it. :-)