THEY account for less than 4 per cent of our electricity generation now, but solar and wind could be cheaper than coal by 2030, according to the Climate Commission.
Chief commissioner Professor Tim Flannery said rooftop solar panels may already be cheaper than conventional electricity in areas with high power prices, such as south-west Western Australia, and some regional areas.
Solar generates about 0.3 per cent of the nation’s electricity and he said the industry was set to boom as costs fell and markets expanded in places like India and sub-Saharan Africa.
”If you had looked at penetration of mobile phones into the market 15 years ago, you would have seen a similar sort of thing,” he said. ”These technological changes can happen incredibly quickly.”
About 754,000 households and businesses have installed solar panels.
”I think a lot of people are saying ‘why would we be hostage to ever increasing electricity prices’?” Professor Flannery said. ”The price of production has dropped 75 per cent in four years, this is now affordable technology.”
Australia aims to generate 20 per cent of its energy through renewables by 2020. That figure is now about 10 per cent, two-thirds of which comes from hydroelectricity, nearly a quarter from wind and 3 per cent from solar.
The Generating a Renewable Australia report to be launched on Monday in Sydney by Professor Flannery and fellow author, Climate commissioner Professor Veena Sahajwalla, reiterates that global carbon dioxide emissions will need to be near zero by 2050 to ensure a two-thirds chance of keeping the planet’s average temperature less than 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.