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‘Coal phase-out and workforce shortages drive power price hike’

The phase-out of coal plants and workforce shortages in renewable energy sectors are set to drive electricity prices up until 2030, reaching historic highs, according to a new report

The transition away from coal-fired power and the challenges in recruiting skilled workers for renewable energy projects are expected to keep electricity prices high in Australia until 2030, according to the latest NEM Benchmark Power Curve report from Cornwall Insight.

With coal units retiring, energy prices are forecasted to remain above AUD$100 (£52.3) per MWh across all NEM regions until the end of the decade, with New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland (QLD) expected to see prices peaking at AUD$170 (£88.9) per MWh by 2028 and AUD$164 (£85.8) per MWh by 2029, respectively.

Shortages in the workforce are anticipated to impede the deployment of essential renewable projects, exacerbating the pressure on power prices.

The report suggests that over 70,000 skilled workers will be needed to build and maintain new renewables infrastructure in the next two decades, up from about 40,000 in 2023.

Addressing this shortage through initiatives like retraining programmes and increased funding for institutions is deemed crucial.

Looking ahead, a decline in electricity prices is anticipated in the early 2030s as renewable energy sources become more prevalent, displacing fossil fuel-generated power.

However, this may lead to a slowdown in new capacity entry, coupled with rising demand from the electrification of the economy and the closure of remaining coal units, causing power prices to rise again.

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