Tokyo Westward Group Energy Alternatives 5 Alternative Energy Sources That Are Cheaper Than Solar

Hydroelectric

Electricity generated by running water through a dam's turbines costs about 9 cents a kwh generated. That's less than half the cost of electricity generated from "ordinary" solar panels. More than three times less than solar thermal power. And hydropower may be even cheaper than what the EIA says it is.

The Hoover Dam, for example, is said to wholesale the electricity it generates for as little as 1.6 cents a kwh -- about a penny-and-a-half.

Wind

Say what you will about the downsides of wind power -- that windmills kill birds and bats, that they allegedly induce headaches in their neighbors -- one thing's for sure: Wind power is a whole lot cheaper than solar.

EIA estimates say that amortized over their lifetime, windmills generate electricity for a cost of just 10 cents a kwh on average -- on par with hydro, and far cheaper than solar.

Across the ocean, the European Wind Energy Association claims that some of its member projects are generating electricity at a cost of as little as 5 cents a kwh.

Geothermal

There's also geothermal energy -- which uses the differential between near-constant temperatures below-ground and temperatures up here to create energy.

Because geothermal energy equipment is of necessity buried, it costs a bit more to maintain it. But total costs tend to average around 10 cents a kwh -- similar to wind, and not much more than hydro. But again, a heck of a lot cheaper than solar. Indeed, at the Geysers power plant in California, geothermal energy is sold for as little as 3 cents a kwh.

Nuclear

Seeing as the nuclear power plants been around since the 1950s, you may not think of nuclear power as being particularly "alternative." But it doesn't produce greenhouse gases, and it does produce electricity.

And at just 11 cents a kwh to pay for electrons generated by the latest generation of nuclear reactors, it's definitely in the hunt to underprice solar. In France, where they do nuclear power at scale, utility company Electricite de France sells nuclear-generated electricity for about 5 cents a kwh.

Coal

Perhaps the most "alternative" of energies -- in the sense that it's so counterintuitive that you'd never think of it as alternative -- is coal. More specifically, coal burned in high-tech facilities that scrub out the pollutants, known by the seeming oxymoron "clean coal."

According to the EIA, if you take all the cost of creating a real clean coal industry with the latest scrubbing equipment factored in, then add the cost of developing technology to sequester carbon emissions and inject them deep underground so they can't leak back out, plus the cost of the coal itself ... you're still likely to come up with an average cost that's about 59 percent that of solar -- 13 cents a kwh.

Comment Stream