31 January 2007 - Australia's federal government has been urged to give little weight to a report by the power-generating industry that warns of a huge jump in the cost of electricity.
The study predicts power would become twice as expensive if greenhouse gas emissions are cut by a third in the next 25 years. The report, commissioned by the Energy Supply Association of Australia (ESAA), says the cheapest way to reduce emissions is by using clean coal, gas and nuclear technologies.
But Dr Mark Diesendorf, a senior lecturer in environmental studies at the University of New South Wales, says the findings reflect the vested interests of the association's members, who own most of Australia's coal-fired power stations.
"The ESAA model has several very absurd assumptions," he said. "For example, it assumes a very high growth in the demand for electricity. "It assumes a very limited role for efficient energy use, which is the most cost-effective and the fastest kind of greenhouse response strategy."
The Greens agree the report is self-serving. Greens Senator Christine Milne says renewable energy is ready to go and more cost-effective in the long-term.
"The only reason they're more expensive than coal at the moment is the coal industry has had 100 years of polluting the atmosphere for free," she said. "Let's put a price on carbon, let's have a national reduction emissions target, introduce a greenhouse gas trading scheme and then we'll see on a level playing field the renewables really surge."
Senator Milne says renewable energy needs to be embraced before investment dries up.