The Breakthrough Institute, a Californian environment and energy research unit, has put out an eye-catching report about German solar subsidies. According to Breakthrough’s assessment, the feed-in tariffs paid since the start of the solar boom make PV four times as expensive as nuclear power, even using the inflated costs suggested by the construction of the reactor at Olkiluoto in Finland.
Breakthrough should have made the point – but didn’t – that the initially generous feed-in tariff rates in Germany have been repeatedly cut. The correct analysis would have not have compared today’s nuclear costs with PV of a decade ago but the current costs of both technologies. At 2013 prices, solar PV in mid-latitude countries is now cheaper than new nuclear. Put in the UK context, the proposed EdF power station at Hinkley is now more expensive per unit of electricity generated than solar farms in the south of England. The implications of this need a great deal more consideration than they are getting. Read the rest of this entry »