Switch to cheaper renewables inevitable

Renewable energy investment on the Coast

Forum –

Charles Hemmings (CCN272) asks if renewable energy really is now cheaper than coal and gas in Australia.

The answer is yes, and this news has very large implications for the future of our economy on the Central Coast.

GenCost is an annual report on the cost of electricity generation in Australia and is a collaboration between CSIRO and AEMO (the Australian Energy Market Operator).

Their most recent edition, published on December 11, 2020, shows the following LCOE (Levelised Cost of Electricity) for each technology ($/MWh): Nuclear, $258-$338; Brown coal, $ 112-$145; Black coal, $89-$120; Gas, $68-$115; Wind, $48-$61; Solar PV, $46-$68 (Reference: www.publications.csiro.au/publications/publication/PIcsiro:EP208181).

These numbers explain why all of the private investment in … recent years has been in renewables and not in new fossil fuel generators (or nuclear).

The other argument against the increasing reliance on wind and solar in the grid is that they are unreliable.

There are three ways to address this issue: technology diversity, geographic diversity and storage.

The energy generation industry is undergoing a major transformation, not just locally, but worldwide.

Each of Australia’s major thermal coal customers, including India, China and Japan, have announced plans to transition away from fossil fuel energy.

This transition has been foreseeable for decades but, instead of laying long-term plans to reskill our workforce, support and nurture the new manufacturing industries and be a competitor in the new global marketplace, we have spent the last 30 years pretending that nothing will ever change and now we have been caught out.

The many families on the Coast who rely on the coal industry for their income need and deserve our support during this transition period.

But they cannot prevent this transition any more than horse and buggy drivers of old could stop the transition to the motor car on the grounds they would lose their job.

Email, Dec 15
Geoff Cameron, Narara

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