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Would you like to throw billions at solar?

Posted By Joanne Nova On May 4, 2011 @ 3:33 am In Global Warming | Comments Disabled

Have you wondered just exactly how much money you could pay for the feel-good factor of knowing that your electrons came from fashionable sources?

Thanks to the Victorian government we can get the hard numbers in the Victorian Auditor General’s Report.

In a nutshell, most alternatives are 2-3 times as expensive, except for solar which is 5 times the price.

(Luckily at the moment, renewables only produce 3 – 4 % of all energy in Victoria. Be grateful. You Victorians could be a lot poorer.)  As it is, it cost Victorians $415,000 to tell you this, but it may be the most effective money spent on renewable energy in the last ten years. (Though oddly they didn’t produce this helpful comparative graph below. I did that for free.)

The Full PDF

In 2002 the State government of Victoria decided to aim for 10% renewable energy by 2010. You can see how well that worked out for them:

The light blue line (at 10%) was what they were aiming for.

The report is 48 pages. Basically it found that nobody thought too hard about how these aims would be done. Nobody assessed how useful it was to toss lots more money at solar. The targets are not even close to being met, and it will all cost billions: specifically something like $6 – $8b. Next time, a cost benefit analysis would be handy.

Findings

• Setting the targets and planning for how they would be achieved lacked rigour.
• No assessment has been undertaken to support and substantiate the 2010 solar
energy targets or time frames for achieving them. There has also been no
assessment of the full costs and benefits of achieving the solar targets.
• Renewable energy generation targets established in 2002 have not been met by
their original target date of 2010. Renewable energy generation has increased by
only 0.3 per cent over seven years, compared to a target of a 6 per cent increase.
• The interim 2014 solar targets are not likely to be achieved given the lack of
available and planned generating capacity.
• The cost of achieving the 2 500 gigawatt hour target is estimated at
$5.6–$8 billion in nominal terms over 27 years, or $2.4–$3.4 billion in net present
value (NPV). The direct cost is estimated at $842 million in NPV.

Recommendations

The Department of Premier and Cabinet should undertake:
• a cost-benefit analysis for the solar energy targets and the Victorian Large Scale
Solar Feed-in Tariff
• the outstanding business impact assessment and an assessment of
constitutional, commercial, legal, financial and technical issues associated with
the Victorian Large Scale Solar Feed-in Tariff.

My thought for free: Would the Victorian people be better off spending those billions on medical research?

Hat tip to George W in Victoria. Ta!

REFERENCES

Victorian Auditor-General’s Report, Facilitating Renewable Energy Development, April 2011. 2010-11:27. PP No 21, Session 2010–11 [PDF]

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