Dave Elliott: A report from the Council of European Energy Regulators ‘Status Review of Renewable Support Schemes in Europe’ puts the weighted average subsidy paid to renewable generators in EU 26 in 2015 as €110 /MWh. The maximum was €184/MWh in the Czech Republic and the minimum €16.2/MWh in Norway, while the UK came in at €75/MWh. The data is distorted by the fact that in some countries, like Norway, well established hydro is the dominant renewable and no subsidy is involved. It’s also worth noting that, in many countries, coal still gets a big subsidy, in Germany for example, and global subsidies for fossil fuel have been up to six times that available for renewables. There are of course some benefits that can be set against the renewable subsidies- the avoidance of climate and air quality impacts. Taking those on board can make them look like very sensible long term investments, although that’s also true of nuclear power. But then that has risks that are not always reflected in the cost. Some might add job creation as a benefit- in the belief that investment in renewables creates more jobs and better jobs than investment in capital intense nuclear or fossil plants. That’s not at all clear. Biomass growing can certainly be very labour intensive, although the type of jobs involved may not be wonderful or well paid. You can certainly create more jobs for a given investment if you pay workers less, all other things being equal. Installing solar PV can create jobs, but the number per kWh produced may not be high. Wind turbine manufacturing and installation is labour intensive, but wind farms need no on-site staff. You may create jobs quickly in some locations with fast to install renewable energy projects, but a 10 years to complete nuclear project may employ people over a longer period.
Environmental Research Web 7th April 2018 read more »