Net Zero Economics and Cost

The Economics of applying Net Zero Technologies is not very well understood by most people.  This mainly is because individuals and corporations are generally involved in only one of the 10 main NZ Technologies, and policy makers depend on these industry “experts” for guidance and understanding.  To help the Renewable Energy market advance and grow at the pace we need to protect our planet, a broader economic understand of all the RE/NZ Technologies is needed. 

Just what do the Net Zero Technologies cost?  It is not a simple question as there are installation costs, operations costs, maintenance/replacement costs, risk “costs”, financing costs, etc.  The only way to combine all of these costs into one figure is to consider the Life Cycle Cost – LCC.  The LCC takes the long view including all costs to help decision-makers chart a sound course for the future.  A ranking of one technology before the other on this LCC Cost/Benefit basis is not the whole picture as we must also keep in mind our ultimate need to reach NZ-80% — a transformation that will require the careful application of ALL the Net Zero Technologies.  Further, the exact ranking of each technology will change from site to site.

 To understand this Net Zero Economics graphic, let’s first take the case of ‘Weatherstripping’ and ‘Double Pane’ windows.  As we all know, weatherstripping and double pane windows are well worth their cost in the amount of energy they save.  Yet, even those technologies began as very expensive and generally not considered essential technologies generations ago.  Thus, they were once at the left of this graphic in the area where only “Pioneers” would adopt them (see Rate of Adoption at the bottom of graph).  Now we understand those technologies are so Cost Effective that they are even required by building codes due to the energy/pollution that they save our whole society.  So, now they are fully at or off the right side of this graph and fully adopted.

At the other end of the scale is Nuclear. Nuclear is a “clean energy” is some respects, but there are serious safety, waste, and cost considerations that must be considered.  At this point in time, Nuclear has an initial installation cost in the $5-$10/watt range, and is thus far more expensive to install than PV at about $2.50-$3.50/watt.  The result is Nuclear power plants are no longer being built because of a combination of their far higher cost (2x-3x), waste, and safety risk factors.  This places Nuclear at the far left of the graph in the area that very few will adopt it.

In between, we find all the other Net Zero Technologies with Wind and GHP being the current adoption leaders and Foam Insulation (an EE technology) and PV in rapid pursuit.  There is a large combination of factors that place each of these key Net Zero Technologies in their particular position, and their relative positions do vary according to the specific geologic location, climatological location, local thermal/electrical demand needs, incentives, etc.  Please see our Net Zero Technologies page for a full rundown of all the factors that impact the rate of adoption for each of these technologies.

Questions?  Comments?

Do you have some valuable input on this Net Zero Technologies Economic Ranking?  Share you thoughts via the Friends Page, or join and post a comment on the Net Zero Movement LinkedIn Forum.