Friday, February 18, 2011

Coal Isn't Cheap

Grid Parity Achieved

The cost of supposedly cheap coal-generated electricity
"Coal plants produce the lowest cost electricity." That's what one always hears, but it turns out coal may be the lowest priced electricity, but not the lowest cost. Adding in all the currently externalized costs would add more than $0.17/kWh to the cost of coal-generated electricity. That would make most forms of renewable energy cheaper than coal, even at utility scale. Hidden subsidies to coal prevent the straightforward comparison that shows renewables have already achieved grid parity. When will we pay the real cost of dirty energy?

All that is necessary to switch to clean renewable energy is political will. The economics already make sense, as do the environmental consequences and social impacts. Several groups have now produced studies showing it can be done by 2050.

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