Renewables cheaper than fossil fuels, nuclear by 2030

Looking at all the costs to construct and run power plants, it will be cheaper to build a wind or solar power plant within 18 years rather than one using nuclear or fossil fuel, says a research unit within the Australian Government.

"The results indicate that Australia’s energy future is likely to be very different to the present," writes the authors of the Australian Energy Technology Assessment, which was released today.

However, non-renewable technologies, like gas and nuclear power, will have the lowest electricity cost over the short-term and still stay cost competitive with wind and solar out to 2050.

Authors note that the rapid global production of solar photovoltaic over the past two to three years has dropped prices dramatically.

Business Insider's Gregor MacDonald noted the same. Renewables are currently the fastest growing energy source and could portend a breakout, while traditional power sources are hobbled by cost, regulation and uncertainty.

In determining future costs, the report assumes the Australian dollar will weaken and drop from its historic highs increasing the cost of imported power plant components.

Power from biomass also gets a mention.

"Biogas and biomass electricity generation technologies in 2012 are some of the most cost competitive forms of electricity generation and are projected to remain cost competitive out to 2050."