According to a leaked European Commission report on the future of energy in Europe, the slow switch to greener sources of energy is going to push the cost of electricity through the roof. The FT has the story:
Average electricity prices for households and businesses would rise “strongly up to 2020-2030” under all scenarios, the document says, and the highest prices would occur after 2030 if renewable sources of power, such as wind and solar, make up a large share of energy production. For example, average prices for households could jump by more than 100 per cent by 2050 if this were the case but only by 43 per cent under a scenario that assumed more nuclear power and carbon capture and storage were used.
This will not make Europeans happy, and it is unlikely that American consumers will be lining up for a 100% electricity hike anytime soon. Those prices are also not going to help manufacturers stay competitive, and they are not going to boost the prospects of the electric car industry.
But Europeans and Americans have money to burn compared to people in other parts of the world. India and China are not going to commit to this kind of cost structure; if the EU study is accurate it means that the developing world will never sign up to the ambitious energy targets northern greens want — and that means that no matter how high we jack up electricity prices in Europe and North America, carbon control efforts are doomed.
Unless the alternative energy cost picture changes radically from what the EU now expects, wind and solar will not do the trick.