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Renewable Energy is Actually Cheaper than Coal and Gas in Australia

Renewable Energy is Actually Cheaper than Coal and Gas in Australia

“The sun doesn’t always shine,” they say. “Renewable energy will never replace fossil fuels,” they say. Well, despite well-funded efforts to misinform and obstruct, THEY are wrong.

The United States’ heel-dragging notwithstanding, the rest of the world has high hopes for the power of renewable energy to meet our demand for both electricity and carbon limitation. Several leading nations have put their full effort behind the development of solar, wind and geothermal power, allowing them to pull far ahead of America in production.

You would think that falling behind in the energy race would have been enough to kick the U.S. into gear (we hate to be second place in anything) but alas, even international prestige is no match for our lust for money. That’s another sticking point that THEY like to harp on: “But fossil fuel is so much CHEAPER than solar and wind,” they wail.

Wrong again.

Non-subsidized renewable energy is now cheaper than electricity from new-build coal- and gas-fired power stations in Australia, according to new analysis from research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Go ahead and read that twice, I’ll wait. Yes, you read correctly, that means parity was reached without any kind of artificial propping up by the government.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s research on Australia shows that since 2011, the cost of wind generation has fallen by 10 percent and the cost of solar photovoltaics by 29 percent. In contrast, the cost of energy from new fossil-fuel plants is high and rising. New coal is made expensive by high financing costs. The study surveyed Australia’s four largest banks and found that lenders are unlikely to finance new coal without a substantial risk premium due to the reputational damage of emissions-intensive investments – if they are to finance coal at all.

Finally, a country that gets it. A country with plenty of thriving businesses, wealthy people and politicians, I might add. Yet, somehow, Australia has been able to see what the U.S. refuses to acknowledge: fossil fuels are the dying relics of the past, and to continue to subsidize them is to doom our economy to failure (not to mention all the life-threatening pollution).

“The perception that fossil fuels are cheap and renewables are expensive is now out of date”, said Michael Liebreich, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “The fact that wind power is now cheaper than coal and gas in a country with some of the world’s best fossil fuel resources shows that clean energy is a game changer which promises to turn the economics of power systems on its head,” he said.

What allowed them to leap ahead in the race to make renewables cost-effective? Well, aside from a delightful willingness to consider environmental health as an asset, the Gillard government’s carbon pricing scheme certainly didn’t hurt. The Australian program, forces big polluters to pay, literally, for the harm they’re doing to the environment. Since corporations can’t be expected to show compassion like a person (even though we protect their personhood in other ways) hitting them in the pocketbook has and will always will be the way to get them to act.

Similar schemes have been proposed in the U.S., but not surprisingly, our industry-controlled government wouldn’t hear of it. Still, states have moved forward on their own. If the California cap-and-trade program is even half as successful as Australia’s has been in driving down the price of renewables, you might see the idea surface again. And this time, it will have teeth shaped like dollar signs.

 

Related Reading:

5 Countries On The Naughty List For Dirty Energy

Wind Industry Breathes Sigh Of Relief From Edge Of Fiscal Cliff

Oil-Soaked Saudi Arabia Sets Goal of 100% Renewable Energy

 

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185 comments

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6:07PM PDT on May 28, 2013

Thank you for sharing this important information. The majority of the people I have spoke with about renewable energy believe it is much more expensive. The U.S. is doomed to lag behind because the government and the justice system serve corporations not the public.

6:16AM PDT on May 28, 2013

It should be made widely used

1:06PM PDT on May 27, 2013

Thanks

4:14PM PDT on May 25, 2013

3 years ago the actual cost of a gallon of gas including environmental damage was calculated at around 11 dollars a gallon.

3:51PM PDT on May 25, 2013

After initial investment costs are ameliorated the raw materials for solar and wind power are free, but uranium, petroleum and coal costs keep on coming and keep getting more and more expensive.

The question remains, just how stupid do you have to be to think renewable energy is more expensive once the infrastructure is finished? And how many nuclear plants will ever be built without the government carrying all the risk. No company can afford to build and insure a nuclear power facility themselves, and the sun and wind don't cause radioactive spills.

9:40AM PDT on Apr 8, 2013

I agree.

10:06AM PDT on Apr 5, 2013

The Corporate controlled USA will not get far till it pays them, here in my area we only have sustainable wind hydro & solar electricity & mine is solar off grid! it is great nevert to have to think of electric bills each month.

7:46PM PDT on Apr 3, 2013

REALLY??Tell me something I didn't know!

5:49AM PDT on Mar 22, 2013

thanks for sharing :)

6:22AM PST on Feb 24, 2013

This is just a small step. We need more renewables in play!

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