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Solar opponents 'relying on myths and outdated stats'

5th Oct 2012

Solar energy naysayers often rely on outdated statistics and false information to undermine the industry.

Or so says Tristan Edis, editor of Climate Spectator, who criticised campaigners who spread myths about the sector - either inadvertently or on purpose.

One of his main gripes is the citation of figures from IPART regarding how much the Renewable Energy Target (RET) will cost the man on the street.

He noted that the organisation, which is the New South Wales utility regulator, previously claimed that households would need to shell out $102 each for RET compliance.

Not only this, but the Small-scale Renewable Energy Scheme (SRES) - which is largely associated with solar power systems - will constitute about $64 of the total. 

"Unfortunately, prominent lobby groups are choosing to promote a mistaken overestimate of the cost of the RET from ... IPART," Tristan argued.

"IPART staff concede their estimate of the compliance cost for the RET, and in particular the SRES, is a significant overestimate."

He cited recent REC Agents Association (RAA) figures that showed the regulator had got its sums wrong to the tune of 27 per cent, based on actual market stats for 2012.

And this was backed up by Origin Energy, which claimed it would cost just $70 per household for compliance with the RET in a submission to the Climate Change Authority (CCA).

The submission was put forward as part of a biennial review of the RET conducted by the CCA, with a number of renewable energy advocates urging the government to not only continue with the target, but to increase it. 

And it's not just inaccurate data hampering the sector, Edis said, but outdated information. 

Carbon abatement stats for solar energy are often hopelessly out of date, he claimed, with many opponents using research from when solar PV was heavily subsidised by the government.

"The cost per tonne of CO2 saved was in the realm of $200 to $400," he stated. "However, things have changed such that the SRES will deliver abatement at a cost potentially lower than gas-fired power."

According to Tristan, the RAA has calculated that by 2015, $37 in support will be required for each megawatt-hour of electricity displaced by solar PV systems.

This represents $41.10 for the abatement of a tonne of carbon, he said, based on the typical Australian grid emissions intensity.

As gas prices are expected to double over the next eight years, this makes solar energy a highly competitive source of power, the expert concluded.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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