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Solar power - the future of cheap electricity?

1st Aug 2012

Australia's energy sector is transforming and solar power is likely to be at the forefront of this overhaul.

But don't just take our word for it - the release of new statistics from scientists at the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics (BREE) has shown there is evidence to back this up.

The organisation has published the Australian Energy Technology Assessment Report (AETA) and Model, which was described by BREE's executive director and chief economist Professor Quentin Grafton as the "most up-to-date cost estimates for 40 electricity generation technologies" in the country.

The AETA was developed in conjunction with WorleyParsons, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the Australian Energy Market Operator and a stakeholder reference group.

So what exactly have these industry powerhouses discovered? Well, they've predicted success for solar energy and other sustainable sources over the next 20 years.

Professor Grafton said: "By the mid-2030s some renewable technologies, such as solar photovoltaic ... are expected to have the lowest levelised costs of electricity generation of all of the evaluated technologies."

However, sustainable power may have some competition from non-renewable sources, with combined cycle gas, carbon capture and storage, and nuclear all offering electricity generation that will remain "cost competitive" until at least 2050.

What is clear from the report is that Australia's energy landscape is changing and that solar power is likely to play a leading role in helping the country achieve its targeted gas emission reductions.

"Australia's energy future is likely to be very different to the present," Professor Grafton explained, adding: "Australia will experience an energy transformation over the coming decades that will have a profound impact for electricity networks."

It is not the only study to provide encouraging figures for solar power adoption, with recent research by 100% Renewable showing 94 per cent of Aussies are supporters of solar construction projects.

Posted by Mike Peacock

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