Back in February 2017, when he was Treasurer, not Prime Minister, Scott Morrison brought a big lump of coal into Parliament and exhorted everyone to stop fearing it. The idea behind this carbon-based stunt was to remind Labor that the coal mining industry provides jobs for people – men and women with votes – in the country.
While it gave the assembly a quick laugh back then, when renewables weren’t looking quite so hot, Morrison is PM and he needs to think about lowering energy prices, especially after the painful rises of recent years.
The rise of renewables is lowering energy prices
The country’s growing appetite for renewable energy – small and large-scale, is a real force when it comes to lowering the prices of wholesale electricity. It’s thought that these rates could halve between now and 2022.
According to data published in August by Green Energy Markets, there’s a direct link between the investment in larger renewable projects, Australia’s small-scale or rooftop uptake and the fall in energy prices.
The Renewable Energy Index report tells us that energy prices started to rise in the middle of 2016, shortly after the period of low renewables production.
GEM believes that this lack of energy coming from renewables clashed with the closure of the Hazelwood coal plant in Victoria. The state of Victoria also saw prices rocket upwards.
Renewables to the rescue
However, by the middle of 2017, thanks to a huge pipeline of renewable projects being in construction and coming online, the prices of wholesale electricity started to fall and haven’t stopped yet. The cost of the investment in renewables is also lower than previously imagined, which is a double-win for everyone.
The GEM report explains how there’s been a huge amount of power – 7,200MW – either online already or waiting to start once the building’s finished since October 2016. This, allied with the spike in rooftop installations, has increased the amount of energy available and so prices are falling.
Analysts believe, then, if Morrison is serious about delivering cheaper energy to the nation’s households, he should start wandering around Parliament with something a bit more sustainable than a lump of coal!