Is "renewable" electricity now economical?

If you ignore the capital costs it probably is.  But the capital costs are mostly subsidized from taxes so that is free money, right?  Wind turbines in particular are hugely expensive. They could never pay off their costs or even deliver a market  return on capital invested

Thanks to a storm of innovation and competition, business and industry has made renewable power more ubiquitous and affordable than even its greatest proponents dared to hope.

“It’s just staggering,” former chief scientist and now special Adviser to the government on low emissions technology Dr Alan Finkel said.

“If you went back to 2010 and looked at all the predictions of battery price for 2050 and now pick up a catalogue, you will see we’ve achieved those 2050 predictions already,” Dr Finkel said.

“We’re seeing the same with solar. Nobody back in 2000 or 2010 predicted solar and wind would be as cheap as they are today. Ninety per cent reduction in the cost of solar electricity per unit in a 10 year period or 11 year period from 2010 to now.”

In other words even just a decade ago it wasn’t even predicted — let alone known — that renewables would be so competitive and cheap.

And so when it comes to power bills, for example, there is no longer a question of any hip pocket pain for environmental gain. Instead it is a clear win-win.

Likewise when it comes to jobs and industry there is now an economic argument for net zero every bit as powerful as the environmental one.

That is why even green groups like the Australian Conservation Foundation are now pressing the industrial case for things like renewable-powered hydrogen, aluminium and steel.

“A target for Australia to reach net zero by 2050 is meaningless without a credible plan with policies and targets to drive down emissions this decade,” CEO Kelly O’Shanassy said.

“The solutions I’ve outlined are part of that credible plan because they address the reason the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister have so often used to not take greater action: the economic cost.

“These solutions will create wealth and wellbeing, replacing the jobs and industries lost as the world moves away from fossil fuels. Harnessing these solutions is good for our climate, our economy, our jobs and our communities.”

And of course there is also the obvious fact that there is a growing global consensus in the lead up to the Glasgow summit that means that whatever the politics or ideology, Australia needs to act simply to preserve its international trading partners.

Plus there is clear political momentum within the Coalition government and geopolitical pressure from our closest allies in the US and UK.

All of this and more has led to a moment where after years of torturous inaction which Labor, the Liberals and the Greens all brought upon themselves there is now an unprecedented alignment of environmental benefit, economic prosperity and political will.

A moment that might finally bring an end to Australia’s climate wars.


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