Letter to the Editor: Worrying claims on electricity costs

DEAR News Of The Area,

RECENT letter writer Bruce Murray makes a number of patently wrong claims about the CSIRO Gencost Report, in the NOTA of 6 June.

The Gencost Report documents the lifetime costs of various types of electricity generation.

It appears that he has either not read the CSIRO document, or has failed to understand it.

For example, he claims that the report doesn’t take into account the capacity factor of different forms of energy, when the capacity factor is clearly documented for every form of electricity generation.

In fact “capacity factor” is mentioned 22 times in the document.

That is the average output vs the maximum output of a generator.

They estimate offshore wind has a CF of 50 to 55 percent – which matches overseas installations.

By comparison the Eraring coal power station has an actual CF of 60 percent, according to AEMO (the energy market operator).

The CSIRO report is based on the internationally accepted standards for estimating the levelised cost of energy.

The method takes into account all costs in the life cycle of the asset, including capital costs, operational and maintenance costs, fuel costs, capacity factor, the expected life of the different assets and the cost of decommissioning at the end of life.

According to the World Nuclear Association, the life of a nuclear power plant is 30 to 40 years, not 70 years, as claimed.

No turbines last that long, no matter what the fuel.

Most generation assets have lives of 25 to 40 years and then have to be refurbished or replaced.

The claim that it only applies to renewable energy is obviously disingenuous.

CSIRO and every other scientific examination of the costs of nuclear energy show that it is the most expensive way to generate electricity.

By contrast, the published data on a year’s actual wholesale prices in the NEM (National Energy Market) show that solar is around ⅓ of the cost of coal and wind is around half of the cost of coal power.

Note that coal is still around 60 percent of electricity generation and dominates the wholesale price.

Nuclear electricity prices would be at least two to three times more expensive than coal, giving us much higher electricity prices than we have now.

The British have a lot of experience with nuclear power but their Hinkley reactor will have taken about 20 years and has been costed at $89 billion for a facility slightly larger than Eraring – incredibly expensive.

We also have the cheapest and most abundant renewable energy in the developed world, unlike the small, relatively crowded, cloudy island of Britain.

Dutton’s nuclear plan is nothing more than a ploy to delay the transition to clean energy.

Brian TEHAN.

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