ANU expert experts help AAP's fact check

Australia leads the world in the per capita deployment of wind and solar generation. Composite image shows wind turbines on left and solar panels on right
19 February 2021

ANU energy experts, Professor Ken Baldwin, and Professor Andrew Blakers, have been quoted by AAP FactCheck, part of the Australian Associate Press (AAP) news service, in response to two recent claims about renewable energy.

Professor Baldwin commented in response to Federal MP Dave Sharma's recent remark that renewable energy was the cheapest source of new power generation.

Mr Sharma's statement said: “I think the lowest cost of new energy generation sources is renewable energy and that’s even when you add in the costs of firming, either with gas or batteries or pumped hydro, and that cost curve is only coming down.”

In response, Professor Baldwin told AAP Factcheck: “Even when the need for additional battery/pumped hydro storage and for transmission infrastructure is taken into account to address variability, and the need for geographic diversity of renewable resources to ensure firm supply, wind and solar are still cheaper.

“The cost of coal generation is also increasing due to the higher risk premium associated with greenhouse gas emissions. This can be reflected in a carbon price, or in the cost of carbon capture and storage, or in a risk premium reflecting the fact that the need to implement either or both of these measures through policy changes increases the cost of finance.”

Professor Baldwin cited a recent paper in EnergyA zero-carbon, reliable and affordable energy future in Australia' by ANU energy experts Dr Bin Lu, Professor Andrew Blakers, Associate Professor Matt Stocks, and Cheng Cheng.

Meanwhile, AAP Factcheck approached Professor Blakers to comment on a statement by Australian Minister for Energy and Emissions, Angus Taylor MP, who said: “We are a world leader in renewable energy investment, deploying wind and solar at 10 times the global per capita average.”

The Minister's office said that statement was based on the 2020 ANU study, 'Australia, the global renewable energy pathfinder.'

Professor Blakers, one of the paper's authors, told AAP that the authors used data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) on the total renewable energy deployed per country and divided this by Worldometer population data to calculate new renewable energy per capita.

Quarterly emissions data from the Australian Clean Energy Regulator "shows that this solar and wind is reducing Australian emissions, and has the potential to dramatically reduce emissions at low cost in the future if we installed solar and wind even faster than at present,” Professor Blakers added.