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The paper considers possible approaches to the economic assessment of the renewable energy sources in electricity supply. The major ways in which renewables may contribute to the UK electricity supply system are stated and quantified, and the major differences and similarities between renewables and conventional electricity generating plant types are discussed. An introduction to a method of economic assessment used for conventional plant types is given. This method is not directly suited to the economic assessment of renewables and the paper proceeds to a critique of variants which have been developed. These are shown to be inadequate, and a new approach is proposed. Some illustrative results are presented in terms of `breakeven capital costs¿¿ for a hypothetical renewable and the sensitivity of the results to some of the major assumptions is shown.