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European Wind Plus Solar Cost 6 Times Other Electrical Sources

by Ken Gregory, P.Eng.

The European Union residential electricity prices have been increasing for many years. Prices generally increase with increasing share of wind and solar capacity installed per capita. Countries with higher installed wind and solar electricity generation capacity have higher residential electricity prices. The graph below plots the 2019 residential electricity prices verses the installed capacity of wind and solar of the 28 EU countries. Average installed capacities for 2019 are assumed to be capacities at the end of 2018 plus one-half of 2019 additions. Counry populations of 2019 are assumend to be the average of the January 1 populations fo 2019 and 2020. Total installed capacity ranges from 36 Watts/capita in Latvia to 1292 Watts/capita in Germany. Prices range from 9.97 Euro cents/kWh in Bulgaria to 30.88 Euro cents/kWh in Germany. The best fit line indicates that the average price with no wind and solar and wind capacity is 11.95 Euro cents/kWh. Germany’s 2019 solar plus wind actual generation was 33.7% of its net electrical generation from all sources. Germany's effective solar plus wind residential price, including the cost burden of backup power, for 2019 is 68.12 Euro cents/kWh. This implies that the solar plus wind electricity costs are 5.7 times that from other sources. The prices for household customers include taxes and duties and were determined for an annual consumption between 2,500 and 5,000 kilowatt hours.

Electricity prices in Europe 2019 vs Installed Solar and Wind

The solar and wind electrical power is highly variable, intermittent and unreliable. These sources of electricity requires near 100% backup from other sources of electricity that are able to immediately ramp up and down power generation to offset the variability of solar and wind power. This enormously increases the cost of the backup power compared to base load power. The electrical  power costs of selected countries have increased from 2010 to 2019 as shown in the table below.

UK 52.5%
Belgium 44.9%
France 39.1%
Spain 38.7%
Portugal 36.1%
Greece 35.6%
Germany 29.8%
Italy 16.8%
 
Sources:
Electricity prices from Eurostat via the Strom-Report.
Populations from Eurostat
Wind capacities from WindEurope.org
Solar PV capacities from EurObserv-er.
Germany 2019 energy from Fraunhofer Institute

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