This piece from The Economist would have been useful context for the green-energy puff piece broadcast on the ABC's flagship current affairs show Four Corners on 7 July.

The Economist has highlighted new research from the Brookings Institution which looks at the full cost of generating various forms of electricity. The Economist's take-away:

If all the costs and benefits are totted up using Mr Frank’s calculation, solar power is by far the most expensive way of reducing carbon emissions. It costs $189,000 to replace 1MW per year of power from coal. Wind is the next most expensive. Hydropower provides a modest net benefit. But the most cost-effective zero-emission technology is nuclear power. The pattern is similar if 1MW of gas-fired capacity is displaced instead of coal. And all this assumes a carbon price of $50 a tonne. Using actual carbon prices (below $10 in Europe) makes solar and wind look even worse. The carbon price would have to rise to $185 a tonne before solar power shows a net benefit.

Photo by Flickr user Juan A.