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Renewables remain lowest cost new build energy source: CSIRO

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The CSIRO has released the 2023-24 version of its annual GenCost report, which has been running since 2018 and provides analysis on the cost of building out energy generation and storage, backing renewables as the cheapest category of new energy.

According to a statement from the scientific agency on Wednesday, GenCost incorporates changes based on stakeholder feedback, such as the first inclusion of figures for large-scale nuclear energy.

Modelling in the report found that renewables – including costs associated with additional storage and transmission – remain the lowest cost new build technology, said the CSIRO.

This was despite increased cost projections for onshore and offshore wind over the next decade, with wind “recovering the slowest from global inflationary pressures”. Onshore wind costs were up eight per cent, and large-scale solar photovoltaic costs down by the same proportion.

This competitiveness of renewables “reflects the decade of cost reductions experienced by wind, solar photovoltaics (PV) and batteries prior to the pandemic, while costs of their more mature competitors have remained flat.”

CSIRO said that the report “reaffirms that renewables, including associated storage and transmission costs, remain the lowest cost, new build technology out to 2050”.

Despite large-scale nuclear power generation being unprecedented in Australia, there were no known technical barriers. However, it was assessed as “more expensive than renewables and would take at least 15 years to develop” reflecting “absence of a development pipeline” as well as factors including missing legal, safety and security measures.

GenCost assessed submissions regarding the suitability of large-scale nuclear power generation in Australia’s electricity system and found that, while unprecedented in Australia, there were no known technical barriers.

It also determined that a nuclear power plant was more expensive than renewables and would take at least 15 years to develop, including construction. This reflects the absence of a development pipeline, the additional legal, safety and security steps required, and weighing the evidence provided by stakeholders.

The 2023-24 GenCost report can be accessed here.

Pictures: credit CSIRO

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