New Report Reveals Renewable Energy’s Minor Role In Electricity Prices

The rumour that solar power is the major culprit in electricity price rises is persistent, pervasive, damaging – and baseless. A new report from independent energy market analysts again shoots down the vicious lies and misconceptions that threaten Australia’s clean and renewable energy future.
      
According to a study by ROAM Consulting, renewable energy schemes only add between 4 and 7 per cent to electricity bills – a small amount considering the huge economic threat posed by climate change. 
      
Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Matthew Warren said Australia’s 20 per cent Renewable Energy Target is the largest greenhouse gas abatement program in Australian history and it will slash that nation’s greenhouse emissions by around 380 million tonnes over the next decade.
    
ROAM Consulting’s report also concluded even in the most aggressive scenarios, the combined renewable schemes are likely to contribute less than 10% of retail electricity tariffs. 
   
Investment in upgrading aging electrical infrastructure is actually the biggest single driver of Australian power price hikes. Improvement to the grid requires an investment of $42 billion across Australia over the next five years. In early 2010, Minister for Resources and Energy, Martin Ferguson, said State and Territory Governments have at times endeavoured to hold back necessary price increases and those decisions are now “coming home to roost.”
   
ROAM Consulting isn’t the first study that has arrived at similar conclusions about renewable energy generally, but solar power continues to be made a scapegoat by parties with various motives; attacking the clean electricity generation technology from multiple angles.
     
Last year, after a major Australian news outlet quoted a think-tank that stated home solar power was to blame for spiraling electricity costs, national solar solutions provider Energy Matters looked into the organisation and found among their funding sources were multiple fossil fuel companies.
    
Earlier this year, Energy Matters also debunked a claim that Australia’s current solar panel rebate cost $300 or more for every tonne of carbon abated. The company has also repeatedly pointed out that solar subsidies exist in part to combat the effects of fossil fuel subsidies that keep those polluting fuels artificially cheap. Those fossil fuel subsidies come at a great cost to the environment and economy; a debt that is now being called in and being repaid in part by renewable energy.
   
As the nation struggles to emerge from the era of cheap energy that never was and with the piper now demanding to be paid, a fierce battle is being waged behind the scenes. Like in all wars, the public is being bombarded with information and misinformation. 
  
The winning of hearts and minds will play a key role in whether Australia becomes a leader in addressing climate change and enjoys continuing prosperity or if it becomes complicit in wreaking further environmental damage that will ultimately result in economic ruin.
       
The full report for the Clean Energy Council by ROAM Consulting, entitled “Impact of renewable energy policies on retail electricity prices”, can be viewed here (PDF).