Cost confusion hampers nuclear case

Nuclear power costs

I have done my best to work out how Peter Dutton arrives at his $1.3 trillion estimate for the Albanese Government’s ‘renewables only’ net zero plan, but I am stumped.

The Australian Energy Market Operator’s 2024 Integrated System Plan has put a $122 billion net present value on the new energy infrastructure required on the NEM by 2050. This is inclusive of generation and storage, as well as 10,000 kms of transmission lines, rather than the 28,000 kms claimed by Mr Dutton, with a quarter of this already committed.

And far from being ‘renewables only’ as Mr Dutton claims, the plan includes the cost of additional gas generation to provide support during peak demand and when wind and solar resources are low.

A 2023 study into Australia’s net zero pathway by Princeton University is cited as the source for Mr Dutton’s $1.3 trillion claim. This study is a strong piece of work that explores net zero pathways for both our domestic and export economies.

The report says that the net present value of the difference between the total private and public expenditure needed to decarbonise our entire domestic economy, and a scenario of doing nothing in response to climate change, is between $600 billion and $900 billion.

But, Princeton only sees, “a potential role for nuclear electricity generation if its cost falls sharply and the growth of renewables is constrained.”  That is, consistent with the views of the CSIRO, nuclear would deliver a higher total system cost and higher energy prices.

Can anyone explain what I am missing?

This article also appeared in The West Australian newspaper.


Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Subscribe to receive more articles like this, plus our state political newsletter, The Source.