Cheapest source of solar and wind power in Australia


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Solar and wind power are the cheapest sources of next-generation electricity in Australia, and renewables outperform fossil fuels for profitability at all levels, according to a new report from CSIRO. The latest report confirms findings from previous years that renewables are not only good for the planet, they are also good for the nation’s coffers.

CSIRO’s third GenCost report, published in collaboration with the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), analyzes the costs of various power generation technologies. Solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind power came out on top, even when integration costs – like energy storage and new transport infrastructure – were factored in.

These integration costs have long worried energy economists. Because wind and sunshine are not constant, the cost of storing the electricity produced has been seen as an obstacle to the economic competitiveness of renewable energies. The new document, which took these costs into account, proves that renewables still far outperform fossil fuels, especially as batteries are increasingly advanced with longer life and lower replacement costs. .

CSIRO Chief Energy Economist Paul Graham said an early version of the report, released to stakeholders in December 2020, has been improved to reflect comments on the impact of weather variability on l increase in these integration costs.

“The final report takes these comments into account: our analysis of the costs of integrating renewables now includes greater recognition of year-to-year weather variability and its impact on demand and supply. ‘electricity,’ Graham said.

In addition to solar and wind power, the report found pumped hydropower to be a serious competitor in the energy market, especially when longer storage times are required.

The GenCost report is a useful tool for mapping the future of power generation in Australia and provides strong evidence of the economic value of transitioning to a renewable energy-based future. The Australian government spent $ 10.3 billion on fossil fuel subsidies in the 2020-21 fiscal year alone, so switching to the cheapest renewables could lower that cost.

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Amaliah Hart

Amalya Hart

Amalyah Hart is a Melbourne-based science journalist.

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