Australia’s leading scientific research group and the country’s energy market operator have released a benchmark study that shows the cost of new wind and solar – even with hours of storage – is “unequivocally” lower than the cost of new coal generation.

The joint study – GenCost 2018 – by the CSIRO and AEMO shows that the levellised cost of energy (LCOE) of solar and wind is well below that of any other generation source.

Even adding two and six hours of storage with batteries or pumped hydro still leaves the cost of “firm” solar and wind power cheaper than any fossil fuel alternative.

The study follows similar conclusions from the likes of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and the observations of big utilities such as AGL, Origin, and the government’s own Snowy Hydro. But it has added significance because of the importance and reputation of the two institutions involved.

“I fully expected the LCOE of renewables to be cheaper,” CSIRO economist and lead author Paul Graham told RenewEconomy in an interview. “I thought that once you added storage, maybe it would be line ball. But it is unequivocally cheaper. Wind and solar are still lower cost even if you take into account those balancing costs.”

And Graham says these are conservative estimates. He points out, as previous studies from the CSIRO and chief scientist Alan Finkel have shown, that the level of storage required for wind and solar is minimal up to a point of around 50 per cent.

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