Not in the way the Department of Defense wants you to believe: Not yet.
In fact, the most recent data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows that not only do wind and solar energy still have plenty to give, but that cost is falling for both the utility and the consumer for wind turbines, solar panels, home solar energy systems, wind and solar fuel cells. And the energy cost savings for people on low and moderate incomes are as high as 20 to 25%.
Wind and solar generation isn’t cheap, but the new data also shows that it’s cheap enough that the new generation technologies will likely continue to be the cheapest ways to generate electricity for years to come.
Here’s what the government estimates the total cost of all renewable energy to be:
The total amount of electricity generated by all energy sources was $4.3 trillion in 2005, up from $2.6 trillion in 2005.
The government’s figures show total costs for wind power at $2.4 trillion, solar at $2.1 trillion, energy storage at $1.3 trillion, biofuels at $1.2 trillion, and bioenergy storage at $1.2 trillion.
This is just a first glimpse of the cost of energy for the world, but the costs will continue to fall. For example, costs for wind power fell a whopping $150 billion between 2005 and 2013. The cost of solar panels fell, too; a report released last week by GTM Research estimates that the cost of solar panel installation fell from $5.3 billion in 2011 to $3.2 billion in 2015.
What you want most in a power source is the cheapest possible generation and the cheapest possible output. The cheapest, in this case solar and wind power, is in fact, at a price much less than the price you’d pay for nuclear power or coal-fired power, the primary sources of energy that will keep generating the electricity that needs to be generated.
The most important fact about all these renewable energy sources is that each generation type also creates new costs. In 2005, wind power accounted for 11% of U.S. electricity, but today it only accounts for 3%. This is because wind energy is currently more expensive than producing a full-thousand-horsepower load of electricity. The average price for a full-thousand-horsepower load of electricity is $1.26, which means that it costs nearly half of what wind power generates.