The component is linked to the “management rules” for sustainable development by Herman Daly, according to which non-renewable resources are only to be used if an appropriate replacement capacity is built up during the same time. This shall enable the production of all goods and services with renewable sources in the future that are currently produced using non-renewable sources. If the replacement capacity is not immediately built up one has to form allowances to ensure the capacity building in the future. In line with the principle of intergenerational justice and with a social long term perspective, these replacement costs are therefore deducted at the time of the resource consumption.
As a result, the replacement costs’ development is not uniform: Whereas costs rose to 213 billion euro in 1996 and fell to 193 billion in 2000, the subsequent trend showed an increase again. This is however interrupted by considerable fluctuations. In 2007 there is another minimum value of 196 billion euro and in 2010 the peak of the observed period with an amount of 224 billion euro.
There are several opposing trends for this development: One influence is the use of non-renewable resources which peaked in 1996 and began to shrink – not continuously, but in trend – in the following years. In 2014, the use of non-renewables was 24 % lower than in 1996, the consumption of electricity was reduced by 18 %, the production of heat by 26 %. This reduction is however moderated by an increase in transport from 510 to 645 billion kilometer in the same period, leading to an increase of mobility by 26 %. Moreover, the change of renewable energy remarkably influences costs: The rise of wind power and recently photovoltaic leads to an approximation to a more realistic power mix for a 100 per cent renewable energy supply that is not unilaterally based on water power.
Therefore the more cost-intensive renewable energy sources gained a higher weight so that the average energy supply cost rise from 0,051 to 0,123 euro per kWh between 1991 and 2014. However, in recent years there had been already a slight reduction of these average supply costs again, because the peak year had been 2011 with 0,128 euro per kWh. The cost per kWh wind and solar energy from new facilities are significantly falling.
There are two strategies that contribute to a decline of replacement costs for non-renewable energies: the shift towards renewable energies and the absolute reduction of energy use. Thus, goals for saving energy should be paid more attention. Also with regard to mobility the limitation of further growth in person- and freight transport should be considered besides new technological possibilities.