Environmental Engineering Reference
(£26-58/MWh). Nuclear is in the range £25-63/MWh, depending on how the plant
is financed. The price of nuclear power is very difficult to determine, but nego-
tiations over the strike price for a new UK nuclear power station are reportedly in
the range £95-97/MWh (Harvey, 2013).
This comparison, however, is simplistic. It ignores three important issues:
Wind energy, in common with several of the other renewable energy sources,
feeds into low-voltage distribution networks, closer to the point of use, and
therefore may have a higher value.
The external costs of wind energy are much lower than those of the thermal
sources of electricity. These are costs which are not accounted for, such as
those due to acid rain damage and coal subsidies.
These above points enhance the value of wind generation. On the debit side,
the variable nature of wind energy means electricity systems need to have extra
reserves available to deal with the additional uncertainty in matching supply
The first and last of these issues are addressed in the next section. The
European Commission funded an authoritative study of external costs (European
Commission, 1995), which provided estimates that are included in Table 1.3.
It may be noted that many governments tacitly accept the principle by providing
the renewable energy support mechanisms discussed earlier.
1.6.3 Carbon dioxide savings
The carbon dioxide savings that result from the introduction of renewable
energy depend on which fuel is displaced. As wind energy is invariably a must
run technology, this implies that changes in output from wind plant are
reflected in changes in output from the load following plant. In most of Europe,
coal or oil-fired plant tend to be used for load following, which implies that
each MWh of renewable electricity displaces between 650 and 1,000 g of
carbon dioxide (the lower figure applies to oil). However, as the amount
of wind energy on the system rises, the extra carbon dioxide emissions from
the additional reserve plant need to be taken into account, although these are
Estimates of external costs (in euro cents/kWh)
Human health and accidents
Global warming estimates