GenCost confirms renewables remain the cheapest form of energy, as the cost of nuclear reactors skyrocket

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

The consultation draft of the 2023-24 GenCost report released today confirms again that firmed renewables are the cheapest form of reliable energy in Australia now and to 2030.

GenCost is an annual collaboration between Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, and the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

It further proves the Albanese Government’s plan to deliver a cheaper, cleaner and more reliable grid through the expanded Capacity Investment Scheme, Rewiring the Nation, and the Gas Code is the lowest-cost and best path for our country as aging and increasingly unreliable coal-fired power continues to retire.

It shows utility-scale solar and onshore wind costs including transmission and storage, are two to seven times cheaper than new coal and small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs), reflecting Australia’s huge natural advantage in renewable resources.

Table 1: GenCost Cost comparisons

2023 Levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) comparison ($/MWh)
Nuclear SMR Firmed mixed renewables: 
(share of renewables)
Variable Large-scale Solar PV Variable Onshore Wind










Solar continues to put downward pressure on energy prices, with the recent 71 per cent drop in wholesale prices in a year due in large part to increased rooftop solar.

AEMO’s roadmap for the future grid – the Integrated System Plan (ISP) released last week also confirms that a renewable grid with hydro, batteries, flexible gas and transmission is the lowest cost way to deliver a secure and reliable energy grid. 

That’s why our Government is expanding the successful Capacity Investment Scheme to deliver 32GW of new capacity – for the long-term reliable, affordable and low-emissions energy system Australians deserve. 

We have also delivered Rewiring the Nation deals with NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and WA that are unlocking and keeping a lid on prices for the necessary transmission build. 

The LNP’s approach in Government was to watch as 24 aging coal plants totalling 26.7 GW announced closure dates – with no plan for replacement. 

Their current ‘plan’ is to stop all new renewable and transmission development at the same time AEMO forecasts 90 per cent of aging and increasingly unreliable coal plant to retire by 2035 – to be replaced by SMR technology, which CSIRO and AEMO find can’t reach first full operation until 2038 at the earliest. 

The Draft GenCost report also details examples of real world nuclear SMR development – including cost blow outs of 70 per cent, yet not a single commercial SMR project anywhere in the world. 

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

“The latest GenCost report reiterates what we already know - renewable energy is the cheapest form of energy in Australia now and in 2030, even when accounting for storage and transmission costs. 

“The Albanese Government is making sure more households and businesses have access to abundant, affordable renewables. 

“After a decade of vandalism and neglect of Australia’s energy grid by the LNP, the Albanese Government is on a unity ticket with our grid operators – to deliver a secure, reliable and affordable grid with firmed renewables."

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

“CSIRO’s report also shows that renewables, particularly wind and solar, remain frontrunners as Australia’s cheapest and most effective options to deliver a reliable grid to continue to power Australian industry and households. 

“Cheaper renewable energy generation means more clean-green jobs for Australians. 

“We’ve set aside $3 billion in the National Reconstruction Fund to support the growth of Australia’s renewable and low-emissions energy industries and meet growing demand in international supply chains.” 

CSIRO and AEMO will release the final report in mid-2024.