Solar power systems not only reduce electricity generation costs and greenhouse gas emissions. A country can also use them strategically to attract investment, becoming more competitive in the globalised economy.
Energy expenses are significant in high-technology business sectors, and these companies are more likely to set up operations in countries that offer a low kilowatt-hour price. However, companies are also becoming more environmentally aware, and using a polluting energy source like coal can have a negative impact on their corporate image.
A company that focuses on cost reduction regardless of environmental impact can suffer public backlash. They are also likely to miss business opportunities with clients who place a high emphasis on environmental sustainability.
Although companies can deploy their own renewable energy systems to reduce costs and cut emissions, another option is simply setting up operations in a country that already uses clean power extensively. New wind and solar farms can already deliver cheaper electricity than new coal-fired power stations. In fact, there have already been cases where new renewable energy projects beat the kWh cost of existing coal generators.
Solar photovoltaic technology and battery systems will continue decreasing in cost in the foreseeable future, while fossil fuels will always be vulnerable to price volatility in the international market. Deploying renewable energy is simply becoming the best business decision, regardless of emissions.
Solar panels and wind turbines also make countries less dependent on imports to keep their electricity supply running. Assuming the project site is well selected, sunlight and wind are available for free and in vast amounts. On the other hand, fossil fuels must be extracted and delivered, which means the power supply is not self-sufficient.
For countries and corporations, deploying clean power is one of the easiest ways to be featured positively in energy news. The largest battery in the world in South Australia and California’s latest laws to incentive solar power both became viral news.
The opposite also applies: when countries and corporations take decisions that threaten the environment, they are portrayed negatively by media channels. If a company decides to power its operations 100% with coal, they will probably be considered a “corporate villain”. To make matters worse, they gain nothing because renewable energy sources are already cheaper.
Australia has abundant solar and wind resources, enough to meet its own energy demand thousands of times. The country also offers favorable interest rates, which are attractive for capital-intensive business sectors.
By investing decisively in clean power, Australia could become an attractive business hub for high-technology sectors, similar to California. All states have already established clean energy targets, and Victoria was the first to create legislation ensuring the target is reached.
Another reason to deploy clean power in Australia is that coal-fired stations are reaching the end of their service life. As mentioned above, the business case is not favorable for new coal power, when compared with renewable energy systems.