Energy Available

Renewable energy what are the costs?

When considering whether to buy green power, the two most important options that customers consider will be cost, and how “green” is the energy being provided. The table below shows the mean cost of producing electricity for the main types of green energy compared to fossil fuels, and the average greenhouse gas emissions for the energy types.

Energy generation costs (2015) and median greenhouse gas emissions (2014)

Energy Type USD/kWh gCO2eq/kWh
Photovoltaics 0.13 41 – 48
Wind 0.08 – 0.20 11 – 12
Hydro 0.08 24
Geothermal 0.05 38
Bioenergy 0.10 230
Nuclear 0.10 12
Coal 0.10 – 0.14 820
Gas 0.07 – 0.13 490

The information in this table shows that geothermal is the cheapest form of energy, with photovoltaics and wind being the most expensive renewable forms. It also shows that coal and gas prices range amongst the various renewable forms. Moreover, coal and gas have significantly higher emissions than any of the renewable forms. Although, many would argue that as time progresses the price of coal or gas will rise as the resource is used up, and prices of renewable energy will fall as the technology becomes more available. From information such as this, and other sources, Powerful Allies has been able to draw up a “green energy scale bar”. Efficiency of electricity data is taken from the table below.

Efficiency of electricity generation

Energy Type Efficiency
Photovoltaics 4 – 22%
Wind 24 – 54%
Hydro >90%
Geothermal 10 – 20%
Bioenergy 20 – 28%
Coal 32 – 45%
Gas 45 – 53%

Thus, using this information as well, an energy scale bar has been drawn up, making comparisons between the five major sources of green energy and fossil fuels. From this data, it is clearly visible which energy generation methods should be invested in, and use of them should be encouraged. This colourfully and simply shows the various types of energy, and enables consumers to work out how green their energy actually is. This is below:

Natural Gas