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BREE 'did U-turn' on solar power

16th Aug 2012

The Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE) may have been left with egg on its face after previously predicting a bit part for solar power in the future of Australian energy - but one campaigner has commended the organisation for setting it right with its most recent report.

Andrew Bray, communications director at 100% Renewables, highlighted a white paper BREE published last year that pointed to a "rosy future" for fossil fuels, while hardly mentioning clean energy at all.

However, BREE has done somewhat of a U-turn with the Australian Energy Technology Assessment (AETA) paper it released last month, which showed solar power is going to be among the cheapest electricity generating sources by the mid-2030s.

"[BREE's] message has been simple - when you want real energy, dig it out of the ground," Andrew stated. "But recently it did something no one had ever imagined. It covered its latest report, the AETA, not with pictures of massive coal loaders but with pictures of solar panels."

When it was released, Professor Quentin Grafton - BREE's executive director among other roles - said the figures showed Australia's energy markets are in for an interesting few years.

In fact, he described the differences as "profound", particularly on electricity markets and carbon targets.

And for Mr Bray, these revelations are enough to turn the whole industry on its head.

In the past, it was the popularity and sustainability factors of renewables that were often highlighted as positives, he explained, but now people are beginning to realise that they can be cheap as well.

So how cost-effective can solar power be? Well, according to experts, it could cost as little as $50/MWh by the mid-2030s - and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Because Andrew claims that industry specialists are already complaining that their price estimations for solar power are being ignored in favour of higher figures for the same technology.

According to him, within a mere eight years the cheapest solar power plants will be half the price of the least expensive gas facilities.

"These projections turn energy thinking in Australia on its head and show that the longer we delay a transition to renewable energy, the more it will cost us," he added.

Andrew has put his backing behind increasing the Renewable Energy Target, which currently aims to have 20 per cent of Australia's power generated through sustainable sources by 2020.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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