Renewables versus fossil fuels – comparing the costs of electricity systems

Electricity system designs for 2050 – An analysis of renewable and conventional power systems in Germany

The study considers four different scenarios for the power system in 2050: two scenarios based on fossil fuels (one on coal, and one on natural gas), and two scenarios for renewables-based systems that differ in their deployment of storage technology. In this “2x2” comparison, the authors assess the total system costs and CO2 emissions produced by alternative configurations of the power system.

A key finding of the study is that the relative advantages associated with each scenario heavily depend on future fuel and CO? prices. And while it is difficult to estimate the prices that will prevail in 2050, the thought experiment conducted in this study does make one thing clear: abandoning the energy transition does not mean that energy costs vanish – it just leads to different costs. And these might just turn out to be higher than expected.