Monday, August 4, 2014

Full costs of solar and wind

In many city-building video games, power comes from windmills. Windmills have a very clean image because they don't directly produce smoke, but they do have one downfall: they don't turn when the wind doesn't blow. Wind is mostly seen as a supplemental energy source because you can't depend on it for 100% of your energy needs. A nice little one page article in the Economist sums up researcher Charles Frank's study which finds that because of these associated costs, solar and wind energy are more expensive than they seem. In fact (as of current technology) nuclear and natural gas-fired power are both cheaper, even considering the damage associated with air pollution. (Of course, nuclear emits no CO2, either....) There are a few caveats, as always, but these issues can't be ignored.

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