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New Studies Unveil True Costs Of Fossil Fuels & Solar PV

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Two new studies have, in comparing the economics of all major fuel supply chains, unearthed the true value of fossil fuels and solar PV.

Two new studies published in the MRS Energy and Sustainability journal recently have both highlighted the social and economic benefits of solar PV compared to fossil fuels, in regards to the overall supply chain of all relevant fuels. Authors Carol Olson and Frank Lenzmann, who work at the Energy Research Centre of the Netherlands, co-wrote both articles together, comparing the economics associated with all the major fuel supply chains, including oil, gas, coal, nuclear, and solar PV. Both articles conclude that the current system is weighted heavily in favor of fossil and nuclear fuels, at the expense of more sustainable technologies such as solar PV.

Olson and Lenzmann provide a comprehensive analysis of the entire subsidy chain through both production and consumption of fossil and nuclear fuels, as well as solar PV, which has served to reveal costs that had hitherto been hidden.

“The entanglement of the fossil fuel supply industry, banks, commodity traders, and the financialization of commodities currently allows fossil fuel supply transactions to be made in non-competitive ways,” they write. “The immense capital available to those operating the fossil fuel supply chain affords not only economic advantages, but also allows them to side-step regulation.”

There are subsidies for production and shipping, not to mention consumer subsidies for fossil fuels, all of which are often overlooked (or intentionally hidden) from public view during political discussion. On the flip side, renewable energy technologies like solar PV are forever placed under the microscope, with every facet of subsidy and benefit subjected to overbearing scrutiny.

Subsequently, according to Olson and Lenzmann, “The ‘true cost’ of electricity generation, including the environmental impacts, must be kept in sight.”

Both reports are available for all to read:

Bringing the social costs and benefits of electric energy from photovoltaics versus fossil fuels to light

The social and economic consequences of the fossil fuel supply chain

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