Published on May 13th, 2012 | by Zachary Shahan1
Wind Cheapest Form of Energy in Kenya and Nicaragua
A recent study by scientists at the ETH Zurich’s Department of Management, Technology and Economics (D-MTEC) looked into the cost of generating 1/10 of the electricity needed for 6 countries (Brazil, Egypt, India, Kenya, Nicaragua, and Thailand) using wind power, utility-scale solar PV, or conventional options. (The research team didn’t include decentralized, off-grid wind turbines and photovoltaic power in this study but will do so in a future study.)
The study found that, in all 6 countries, wind power was cheaper than solar (though, I think it’s clear that they complement each other). Furthermore, in Kenya and Nicaragua, they found that wind was cheaper than the conventional electricity mix in those countries. (And note that this is without even taking important, costly fossil fuel externalities into account.)
However, some government policies make wind’s cheap price less than obvious: “natural gas and crude oil are subsidised in many countries,” Fabio Bergamin writes on ETH Life. “Egypt, for instance, supplies its own natural gas to the electricity companies at about half the global market price. Also in other countries, there are hidden subsidies. Kenya, for example, maintains the electricity price at a low level and covers the deficits in the production of power caused by the rising oil prices with tax money.”
For more info, check out the ETH Life article or the actual journal article in Nature.
Image: Kenya wind turbine via Whirling Phoenix