Australia has power prices worse than a third world country, a global renewable energy guru says.
“For a country that has a very high standard of living, stable economic situation and tremendous opportunities, it makes no sense at all for the price of power to be more than a banana republic,” the Australian head of global renewable firm SunEnergy1, and part-time racecar driver, Kenny Habul said.
Speaking at the Bond Business Leaders Forum on the Gold Coast, Mr Habul said Australia needs to dramatically change its energy landscape in order to escape the energy price crisis, adding that there is a disconnect between Australian standards of living and electricity costs.
Mr Habul said will meet with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull later this month to discuss how to halt spiralling power costs and restore the nation’s electricity prices to normality.
“The current Australian Prime Minister has asked me to meet with him in a couple of weeks and just sort of talk about the general situation here in Australia and I’m not an expert at it but I know the cost of power is astronomically high,” Mr Habul said.
“So I’m looking forward to speaking to the Prime Minister and hopefully understand a bit better why, particularly in Queensland, the rates are ridiculous.”
Australian electricity prices are currently one of the highest in the world, and are a rising economic and political issue, as energy prices increased 12.3 per cent over 2017 alone, and prices forecast are to only increase further.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission found Australian consumers are paying between $100 to $200 more for electricity than what could be considered reasonable, while a recent McKell Institute report found this could rise by up to $430 more on average by the end of 2019.
The federal government has actively worked with energy generators and retailers and outlined new national energy policies in order to drive down the prices, but there has been little headway made.
Mr Habul said Australia’s energy landscape is undergoing a dramatic transition, and the nation needs to turn away from coal.
“Our generation is the end of traditional energy,” Mr Habul said.
“Coal in itself is finished; they’re closing coal plants everywhere. Natural gas was the next best solution. Most coal plants in the US have been shut down and switched to natural gas.
“Solar is now cheaper than natural gas and the latest advancements in solar cell technology put us at twice the output of the current panel in the next four years and at one-tenth of the cost. There is enough sunlight that hits the earth in one day to power the earth for a year, and we dig coal and we burn it, it’s fundamentally wrong.”
Mr Habul also forecast that Australian households will defect en masse from the grid, with every home powered by solar panels and batteries.
“The traditional concept of centralised generation – a 2000 megawatt coal plant, transmission lines, distributions lines – will go away. Maybe what will happen in the end is the utilities will just power the main infrastructure in towns and they won’t power businesses and they won’t power homes.”
However, Australia is unlikely to follow Mr Habul’s footsteps in hiring former special forces soldiers in order to map future transmission lines for solar projects.
“We recruited all special forces and S.E.A.L. teams, and we ran our own helicopters, two of them, through the night and basically mapped the transmission lines on the east coast of the US to determine the best locations for solar plants,” he said.
“You can’t just buy a map, they don’t tell you where they are, it’s a national security threat. You can’t just call up a utility and say ‘where are your transmission lines, mate?’ They’ll tell you to eff off.”
SunEnergy is one of the largest commercial solar power companies in the US and currently has a pipeline of at least three gigawatts in upcoming solar projects.
Source (The Age): Australian power prices worse than banana republics