Expert report reveals nuclear impossible before 2040 and would cost up to eight times more than firmed renewables

Joint media release with Minister for Climate Change and Energy the Hon Chris Bowen MP

New analysis in the 2023-24 GenCost report released today shows the Albanese Government’s plan for Reliable Renewables is delivering Australian homes and businesses cheaper, cleaner energy now and into the future.

The report, prepared by independent expert bodies CSIRO with the Australian Energy Market Operator, compares the cost to build new coal, gas, solar, onshore wind, offshore wind, batteries and nuclear generators.

It finds firmed renewables, including transmission and storage costs, provide Australians the cheapest power, at between $83/MWh and $120/MWh in 2030, when they account for 80 per cent of variable generation.

Were small modular nuclear reactors able to be up and running in Australia by 2030, which they aren’t, the cost of their power would be up to $382 MWh, not including the hefty ‘first of a kind’ premium.

Meaning the cost of power from small modular nuclear reactors would be up to eight times more expensive than firmed large-scale wind and solar when the ‘first of a kind’ premium is included.

This year’s report also analyses the cost of large-scale nuclear reactors. It calculates the cost of power from large scale nuclear would be up to three times more than reliable renewables, and construction costs would likely double due to ‘first of a kind’ cost premiums.

We know that Australia has the best solar resources in the world, and today’s report shows large-scale solar alone is 8 per cent cheaper to build than a year ago.

Compounding how expensive nuclear would be to Australian families, the report also shows that bringing nuclear online would be too slow to keep the lights on, with GenCost confirming ‘the first full operation would be no sooner than 2040’ for small modular nuclear reactors, and years later for large-scale nuclear reactors.

We know Australia doesn’t have that time – 24 coal plants announced their closure dates under the previous government, and 90% of Australia’s coal-fired power is forecast to close by 2035.

The Albanese Government is getting on with the job with record investments in renewables, batteries and large-scale storage, and more affordable gas for Australians.

The Albanese Government’s Reliable Renewables plan is the only one supported by experts to deliver the clean, cheap, reliable and resilient energy system that Australians deserve.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen:

“Our Reliable Renewables plan is backed by experts to deliver the lowest cost energy where and when we need it to power households and industries.

“Peter Dutton’s half-baked plan would see Australians foot massive bills to build risky reactors that have been shown by experts to be the most expensive form of energy, and too slow to keep the lights on."

Quotes attributable to Minister for Industry and Science, Ed Husic:

“Abundant, low-cost energy is a vital input for our Future Made in Australia plan to grow jobs and exports while reducing emissions.

“Today’s independent assessment from CSIRO and AEMO is further confirmation that firmed renewables are the only realistic option.

“Our Reliable Renewables approach will deliver Aussie industry cheap, clean power sooner and our economy a competitive head start.”