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New wind, solar power cheaper than nuclear option, study shows

Indicating they will lead a global push for green energy.

New wind and solar plants generate cheaper low-carbon electricity than the latest nuclear reactors, a study shows, indicating they will lead a global push for green energy.

Newly built wind and solar with natural-gas as a backup can make power a fifth cheaper than nuclear backed by gas, the study by consultant Prognos AG shows. Excluding the backup generation, renewables produce power 50 percent cheaper than nuclear, according to the study. Gas-fired power may be used when demand exceeds generation available from wind and solar.

The full report, scheduled for release tomorrow, was commissioned by Agora Energiewende, owned by the Mercator Foundation and European Climate Foundation involved in promoting action on climate change.

“Wind and solar systems will dominate the power system in increasingly more countries,” Patrick Graichen, head of Agora Energiewende, said in an e-mailed statement. “The battle for the cheapest CO2-free power mix is decided.”

The study brings succor to those arguing for renewables.

German consumers complain power costs have risen, reaching the second-highest in the European Union, partly from subsidies to clean-energy projects installed in the past years. Aid paid by consumers for renewables, which makes up about a quarter of Germany’s power, may total about 24 billion euros ($33 billion) this year, Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said in January.

That’s mainly due to high costs for old units, according to the study. A system based on more advanced solar, onshore wind and gas would cost about 679 million euros a year and one run on new nuclear and gas would total 857 million euros, it showed.

The study constructs its estimates using German renewables subsidies, where costs have “fallen dramatically,” the latest cost estimates for carbon capture and planned U.K. subsidies for nuclear, which it puts at about 112 euros a megawatt-hour.

The report doesn’t take account of future cost reductions.

©2014 Bloomberg News

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