Wind and Solar Energy Bring Extra Costs for Canadian Consumers: Report

A  new report claims that despite the rhetoric that renewable energy is cheap, wind and solar power often increase electricity costs for consumers

Wind Solar Costs

A  new report claims that despite the rhetoric that renewable energy is cheap, wind and solar power generation comes with large, yet often ignored costs that increase electricity costs for residents and businesses.

The new study conducted by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank found that while wind turbines and solar panels are relatively cheap to operate—given their fuel source is free—they’re costly to build and connect to the power grid.

Pierre Desrochers, Fraser Institute senior fellow, associate professor at the University of Toronto Mississauga said that “electricity systems are complex, and too often policymakers pursue renewable energy sources such as wind and solar without understanding their true costs.”

And crucially, because the wind won’t always blow and the sun won’t always shine, they require constant backup sources of power including natural gas-fired electricity plants, which must be kept idling, while consuming fuel and emitting greenhouse gases—so they can start producing power quickly if necessary.

These extra costs increase electricity prices for consumers.

The study further explains taking an example that as a result of Ontario’s Green Energy Act, which was designed to increase wind and solar power generation, residential electricity rates increased from 5.2 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to 11.55 cents at the end of 2017. Witnessing an increase of 122 percent in nine years.

The study also notes that wind and solar power only benefit the environment when they displace emission-producing forms of generation, but in many Canadian provinces where electricity is generated by hydroelectric dams or nuclear plants, there is no corresponding environmental benefit.

“Despite what some politicians and proponents claim, there are large costs—and consequences—to adding wind and solar power generation to any electrical system, which leads to higher electricity bills for residents,” Desrochers added.

As the study does not take into account comparisons with thermal generation, a comparison with the Indian situation is probably infructuous at this stage.

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Ayush Verma

Ayush is a staff writer at saurenergy.com and writes on renewable energy with a special focus on solar and wind. Prior to this, as an engineering graduate trying to find his niche in the energy journalism segment, he worked as a correspondent for iamrenew.com.

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