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Europeans Figure Wind the Cheapest Form of Energy

Nov 02, 2014 01:30AM ● By Kevin Mathews

Which kind of power is the cheapest? Listen to energy companies, and they’ll insist that traditional forms like gas and coal are the way to go. Of course, they have money invested in keeping the existing systems in business. That’s why the European Union commissioned an independent analysis to study the topic. According to the report, wind energy is the most cost-efficient way to supply power.

When proponents of non-renewable energy point to costs, they intentionally overlook the overall economic impact that polluting causes. Once experts start to calculate the costs associated with public health and climate change that coincide with burning coal and gas, the true cost is far higher than initially reported. It’s both irresponsible and shortsighted to ignore these environmental and health consequences from the equation.

The overall price breakdown goes like so:Wind: $133 for each megawatt/hour; Gas: $207 for each megawatt/hour; and Coal: $294 for each megawatt/hour.

Coming in at roughly $158 for each megawatt/hour, both solar and nuclear powers are also more cost-efficient than gas and coal, as well, though still not as economical as wind. The good news is that, as renewable energy companies refine their techniques, the price of this energy has dramatically decreased in recent years.

Since renewable energy technologies are new, they are relying on government subsidies to get off the ground. While these costs are generally used as a strike against green energies, the EU report points out that the gas and coal industries still receive massive subsidies from the government as well, despite earning lofty profits. However, if these industries were held accountable for their carbon emissions rather than given tax breaks, that would make the comparative cost of wind energy even more affordable.

Currently, the conservative party of the United Kingdom is prepared to propose legislation to block wind energy. Hopefully this research-backed report will influence these politicians to take a new approach before implementing this foolhardy policy instead of continuing to align with corporate interests.

Some conservationists have attacked wind energy for utilizing turbines, which kill flying birds. While it’s true that birds are more obviously victims to this kind of energy, scientists who crunched the numbers found that exponentially more birds die (again because of the health and environmental factors) due to oil, gas, coal and nuclear energy – and not just combined, but each of those things individually.

Whether or not the European Union actually follows the eco-friendly recommendation and factors all costs into its energy decisions, it’s certainly a good sign that governments will be forced to acknowledge that clean energy is the cheap and smart approach power source of the future.

 

This article was originally published at Care2.com/causes and is reprinted by permission.

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