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Renewable energy could cost us less money sooner than predicted

By Lucy Brake - 30 May 2011 7:49:1 GMT
Renewable energy could cost us less money sooner than predicted

Researchers at the University of Melbourne's Energy Research Institute have just released a new report which outlines their findings that the future price of solar, thermal and wind power will continue to decrease sooner than has been predicted. This will happen as an increasing number of alternative energy sources are connected into the national energy grid.

The main objective of the study, commissioned by the Australian Government's chief climate change advisor Ross Garnaut, was to review the current renewable energy cost outlooks and compare these with the outlooks used by the Australian energy industry.

The team assessed recent developments in renewable energy generation technology, based on a range of analyses and reports from international sources and concluded that these technologies are, in fact, less expensive than the figures the energy industry is using.

For example, the researchers identified that photovoltaic panels deliver power at a cost of around A$300 per megawatt hour, which is the cost that was predicted for 2030.

Patrick Hearps, lead researcher, said ''We found that the current cost of technology such as solar and wind today are already cheaper than the data that is currently used by the Federal Government and industry planning''.

Hearp believes that the major infrastructure costs needed to develop the renewable energy market are worth the investment over the longer-term: ''The costs from the Zero Carbon Australia 2020 Stationary Energy Plan were an upfront capital of A$370 billion. If you take into account what that does to electricity prices, that would see a price rise based on our models of about 6.5 cents per kilowatt hour which equates to about roughly A$8 per household per week''.

With costs of power souring and issues about the future availability of non-renewable sources, such as coal, the world is turning to renewable energy as an alternative solution.

However, there are many concerns about the significant costs that are needed for development of the infrastructure needed to ensure any renewable energy supply is sustainable. This latest research might just assist in tipping investments in power supplies towards the alternative renewable sources.

To find out more about the study you can read the full report titled 'Renewable Energy Technology Cost Review' online.