Australian news, and some related international items

South Australia’s largest wind farm now fully operational

Map-South-Australia-wind“This plant confirms South Australia’s commitment to being the nation’s leader when it comes to providing efficient renewable wind energy programs. It is a key platform in our plan for renewable energy to supply 50 per cent of the state’s annual power by 2025,”

South Australia’s 270MW Snowtown takes wind energy to new highs B on 3 November 2014

South Australia’s largest wind farm – and Australia’s second largest – is now fully operational, after the launch on the weekend of phase 2 of the massive Snowtown Wind Farm development by New Zealand gentailer Trustpower. The plant will mean that 40 per cent of the state’s electricity needs will now come from wind and solar.

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November 8, 2014 Posted by | South Australia, wind | Leave a comment

Wind power surging ahead in South Australia

Wind power surge as SA govt flicks switch 2 November 2014 South Australia Premier Jay Weatherill and Environment Minister Ian Hunter have switched on the second stage of the Snowtown wind farm project, tripling its capacity.

The $450 million addition of 90 turbines increases the farm’s capacity from Sunday by 1350 gigawatt hours a year, enough to power 230,000 homes.

The wind farm in the state’s mid-north is now the largest in the state, the government says.

The Premier has also warned projects such as the Snowtown wind farm are at risk if the federal government scaled back the Renewable Energy Target.

Mr Weatherill told media the project is creating ‘a new future for this region in South Australia’, but a scaling back of the RET would see large scale renewable initiatives become unviable.

November 4, 2014 Posted by | South Australia, wind | Leave a comment

Hydro Tasmania soon to release its King Island wind energy feasibility study

wind-energy-globeKing Island’s wind farm fate closes in HELEN KEMPTON MERCURY OCTOBER 20, 2014

THE King Island community should know by early next year if their remote Bass Strait home will also become home to the biggest wind farm in the southern hemisphere.

Hydro Tasmania has almost completed a feasibility study into its $2 billion, 200-turbine proposal and is expected to announce early next year if the project will go ahead.

The decision also hinges on the Federal Government not scrapping the Renewable Energy Target. Hydro Tasmania is one of 16 major renewable energy companies who have argued for the retention of the present RET.

The TasWind project is forecast to pump more than $7 million a year into the island economy and provide an estimated $220 million annual revenue boost to the state’s coffers.

Debate over the pros and cons of the proposal has divided the small community and Hydro Tasmania started its feasibility study after 58 per cent of residents indicated they wanted to move on to the assessment stage.

October 21, 2014 Posted by | Tasmania, wind | Leave a comment

A $1.5 BILLION wind farm in jeopardy, as Australian govt plans slashing RET

Renewable Energy Target review leaves wind power in doldrums: Senvion THE AUSTRALIAN SEPTEMBER 30, 2014 A $1.5 BILLION wind farm, slated to be the largest in Australia, is at risk from potential changes to the national ­Renewable Energy Target, the proponent says.

Senvion Australia chief exec­utive Chris Judd said the 197-­turbine Ceres wind farm proposed for the Yorke Peninsula would be jeopardised if the federal government adopted changes proposed in the Warburton review.

The Abbott government is yet to finalise its response to the RET review overseen by businessman Dick Warburton, which recommended either closing the program to new entrants or moving to a demand-limited scheme that was ­reviewed each year.

A spokesman for Environment Minister Greg Hunt said the government would not make any changes that would adversely ­affect companies that had ­already invested in the sector.

Mr Judd said if changes removed the revenue stream for renewable energy, significant investment would be at risk. “We are still progressing with the project, but there is a cloud over it in regards to the ­Renewable Energy Target policy. We need the policy framework to be able to create an investment environment where people would view investment in renewable energy favourably.

“There is no logic in what has been put forward to make the case for change — the review confirms that the policy is working, creating jobs and lowering emissions.”

The wind-farm project, which will underpin 500 jobs, is among $4.5bn worth of investment in South Australia that Premier Jay Weatherill says is stalled as a result of the federal review.

“We have billions of dollars worth of investment queuing up waiting to occur, but it is stalled because the commonwealth government in an extraordinary act has decided to review the Renewable Energy Target,’’ he said.

Mr Hunt’s spokesman said the government was not scrapping the RET. “The government will not make changes that will impact those who have already made an investment — small or large — under the RET,” he said.

Brad Davy, a Senvion technician, said the Snowtown wind farm 150km north of Adelaide had supported many local jobs. “It’s been good for everyone, “ he said.


October 1, 2014 Posted by | South Australia, wind | Leave a comment

Victoria’s Planning Tribunal gives go ahead for wind farm

windmills-and-hayVCAT approves Berrimal Wind Farm changes 15 Sep 2014,

Victoria’s planning tribunal has given the green light to changes to a renewable energy company’s plans for a 24-turbine wind farm in the Buloke Shire.

Acciona’s Berrimal Wind Farm had the support of the Buloke Shire but needed approval from the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) to make the amendments to its original planning permit.

The project is located between Wedderburn and St Arnaud and is expected to generate 72 megawatts of electricity.

Buloke Shire’s chief executive officer, John Hicks, says the $150 million project will benefit the municipality in a number of ways.

“That will provide six ongoing jobs for maintenance and looking after the turbines, plus the economic development that’s available to other people in the shire because of the added business,” he said.

“There’s also the benefits of rates coming into the shire which relieves the burden on other ratepayers.”

However, Acciona says all its projects, including the Berrimal Wind Farm, are on hold because of the uncertainty caused by the Federal Government’s review of the Renewable Energy Target.

September 16, 2014 Posted by | Victoria, wind | Leave a comment

Double benefit in farming both cattle and wind, in Western Australia

wind-farm-Snowtown-SAWA farmer living amongst wind turbines backs keeping Renewable Energy Target 7 NEWS BY CLAIRE MOODIESeptember 14, 2014 Living amongst 15 massive wind turbines might not be everyone’s idea of paradise, but West Australian Mid West farmer Bruce Garratt believes he is investing in the future.

Eight years ago, he agreed to accommodate the turbines as part of WA’s first privately-built wind farm, south of Geraldton, and is still enjoying the serenity.

“People tell me how noisy they are, people tell me how they affect your health,” he said. “I’ve had lots of people tell me different things that honestly, unless they have lived on a wind farm, they don’t really know what they are talking about.”

Mr Garratt, who manages cattle and crops on his 2,000 acre property, said the turbines — part of the Alinta Walkaway Wind Farm — provided an additional passive income, as well as a sense of purpose.

“No-one in their right mind could put up an argument and say that wind turbines aren’t of benefit,” he said. “They’re not producing C02.”

Mr Garratt is critical of the recent Warburton review that recommended either closing the Renewable Energy Target (RET) to new entrants or scaling it back…….

Coal-fired generators the winners: wind farm owner

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September 15, 2014 Posted by | Western Australia, wind | Leave a comment

Canberra protestors worried about wind farms disturbing their rural setting

wind-farm-evil-1Residents fighting Jupiter wind farm plan Canberra protest, Canberra Times September 15, 2014  Land owners in communities along the Goulburn-Braidwood Road are continuing their self-described “David and Goliath battle” to stop a $400 million wind farm development proposed for 12,000 hectares in the area.

The Residents Against Jupiter Wind Turbines group last week said progress was being made in the fight, after another community meeting at Tarago and contact with Goulburn MP and planning Minister Pru Goward.

Planning is underway for a demonstration outside the ACT Legislative Assembly on Tuesday as group members want territory residents to know the local impact of some renewable energy sources.

An Australian-Spanish joint venture is developing the 110 turbine wind farm on the properties of 25 landholders. The individual turbines are set to be more than 110 metres high, with three 63-metre rotor blades, near small towns at Lake Bathurst, Tarago, Mayfield, Boro, Mount Fairy and Manar.

Group spokesman Michael Crawford said many of the residents were current and former Commonwealth and state public servants who had migrated to the area, east of Goulburn, and were desperate to preserve their rural setting……..

The group believes the state’s wind farm development guidelines are inadequate, and fail to take full account of impacts including noise, visual changes, sleep and health effects and property values…..

The company has several proposed wind farm projects in New South Wales and Victoria.

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September 15, 2014 Posted by | ACT, wind | Leave a comment

South Australia’s wind energy breaks another record

Map-South-Australia-windAnother Wind Power Record For South Australia,  Energy Matters 12 Aug 14  Wind farms in South Australia generated enough electricity to meet 43 percent of the state’s power requirements last month.

A new wind generated power benchmark for July was also set across the entire National Electricity Market (NEM) according to the Clean Energy Council (CEC) – around 6 percent.

“Australia’s wind farms were working overtime in the cold conditions during July. South Australia comfortably powered ahead to set a new wind power record, helped by a bit of extra renewable grunt from the new Snowtown II wind farm,” said CEC Acting Chief Executive Kane Thornton.

“With more than 40 per cent of the state’s power demand provided by wind energy for the entire month, it is clear that large amounts of renewable energy can be added to the system without the need for extra backup generation to be built.”

Mr. Thornton stated more than $5 billion of wind power investment had poured into South Australia in the last decade, creating hundreds of greatly-needed jobs and providing the state with a low-cost, cleaner power supply………

August 12, 2014 Posted by | South Australia, wind | Leave a comment

Victoria’s wind farms may be able to expand, after all

wind-turb-smWind companies question planning office response ENERGY companies will be allowed to make minor changes to wind farm planning permits from next month. Weekly Times 22 July 14, The move — which will pave the way for up to 964 turbines to be built across the state creating up to 2376 megawatts of wind energy — has been labelled a “change of heart” by Greens leader Greg Barber.

Planning Minister Matthew Guy said “we’re making a small adjustment to the planning scheme to allow existing wind farm planning permits to be amended, which may assist with upgrading turbine technology”……….

July 23, 2014 Posted by | Victoria, wind | Leave a comment

Australia’s wind energy brought down wholesale wind prices, (but not passed on to consumers)

wind-turb-smBig savings from renewable energy target but consumers miss out, SMH July 2, 2014  Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald While Prime Minister Tony Abbott says renewable energy significantly increase electricity bills, a new study finds wind energy actually forced down wholesale power prices by more than $3.2 billion over six years – but that little of the savings flowed through to consumers. Mr Abbott on Tuesday said the renewable energy target, which has largely driven investment in wind farms, was ”very significantly driving up power prices”.

”It’s precisely the opposite,” John Foster, one of the authors of the study that has been submitted to a review of the target, said. “The [target] – and the stimulation of wind – has increased supply and flattened out the expensive peaks.”

For instance, modelling of 30 minutes of heavy demand for electricity in Victoria on January 31, 2011 showed the wholesale price of $1.4 million would have ballooned to $45.6 million had only coal and gas-fired power plants had been able to respond.

Mr Abbott’s statement has been interpreted as signalling his government may weaken or scrap the target requiring at least 20 per cent of power from renewable sources once a review into the scheme is complete………

Once other costs including the purchase of renewable energy certificates were taken out, the target delivered a net benefit of $870 million from 2007 to 2012, the study found.

Little of that benefit reached consumers, though, with a lack of transparency masking just how much retailers snagged of the gains, Ms Molyneaux said. “We don’t see evidence of consumer prices going down.”

Debate over the target is expected to intensify with coal baron Clive Palmer saying last week his party will use its balance of power in the new Senate to preserve the existing target – now set at 41,000 gigawatt-hours of renewable energy by 2020 – until at least 2016, whatever the recommendations of the government’s hand-picked review panel………

Among the states, Victoria was the biggest beneficiary, snaring $2.37 billion of the $3.2 billion in wholesale savings. It hosts the second-largest wind turbine capacity of the states and can tap the largest – in South Australia – because of good transmission connections, the researchers said.

NSW lagged with only $136 million in wholesale savings because of its modest wind farm presence, while wind farm-free Queensland had barely any savings at all.

By 2012, wind farms were also responsible for reducing carbon emissions at the rate of 4 million tonnes a year, the study said.

Separately, the latest Cedex report by energy consultants Pitt & Sherry found carbon emissions from the National Electricity Market fell 10.4 per cent, or 18 million tonnes, in the two years of the carbon tax.

A fall in electricity demand contributed part of the drop, as did a switch to more wind and hydro electricity. Coal supplied 73 per cent of the power to the National Electricity Market – which serves eastern Australia – a year to the end of June, almost certainly a record low, according to Hugh Saddler, principal consultant with Pitt & Sherry. Gas supplied 12.7 per cent, hydro 9.6 per cent and wind 4.7 per cent.

Windy conditions over the past week saw wind farms supply 14.5 per cent of the generation in NSW, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria from Monday to Saturday.

At 4.25am on Friday, South Australia’s wind generation exceeded demand in the state for the first time, according to Infigen Energy, a wind farm operator.

”The greatest significance of these figures is probably the demonstration that the [market] is sufficiently robust to be able to accommodate such large shares of wind generation, with no effect on the supply of electricity to consumers,” the report said.


July 4, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wind | Leave a comment

Community Energy Congress in Canberra, as Farmers warn against weakening Renewable Energy Target

wind-turbines-and-sheepFarmers, activists warn against reducing renewable energy target on Global Wind Energy Day June 16, 2014  Public service editor Over the years, Boorowa grazier Paul Magee watched each of his five children become adults and leave the family farm to find work.

For him and his wife, Lynette, the opportunity to host wind turbines on their 700-hectare property, about 110 kilometres north of Canberra, may have come a little too late.

But the lamb farmer hopes the growing wind-energy industry will help lure young people back to the bush, and says the federal government must maintain its backing for renewable energy. “There is a possibility that one [of my children] could move back here and help to improve the farm and make it more productive – if the renewable energy target is not changed,” Mr Magee told a rally of activists outside Parliament House on Sunday, Global Wind Energy Day.

“There is a further possibility that others … may gain employment in the area. The economic benefits would help stop the drift to larger cities.”

A review of the so-called RET – an aim for 20 per cent of the nation’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020 – is due to be completed shortly, amid fears the Abbott government will reduce the target or scrap it entirely.

Last month, Treasurer Joe Hockey launched an unprompted attack on windfarms near Lake George, just outside the ACT, telling conservative radio commentator Alan Jones he found them “utterly offensive” and “a blight on the landscape”. Climate activists have also noted that the RET review’s leader, former Caltex chairman Dick Warburton, and other panel members have close links to the fossil-fuel industry.

Mr Magee said he could not understand the Treasurer’s view. “It could be argued that the very same four-lane freeway he was travelling on is more offensive and a bigger blight on the landscape, and indeed the urban development that has ruined the north shore of Sydney,” he said, referring to Mr Hockey’s electorate.

Small groups of residents near windfarms occasionally oppose the industry, saying turbines are noisy and reduce rural property prices.

However, NSW government polling in 2010 found almost nine in 10 residents in the region near the ACT border supported windfarms, including 61 per cent of people who lived one to two kilometres away from turbines.

Regardless of what happens to the federal RET scheme, ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell told the rally that Canberra would maintain the nation’s most ambitious renewable energy policy: 90 per cent of the ACT’s electricity would be sourced from renewable energy by 2020.

He also noted that the Royalla solar farm – the largest in Australia – was just a few months’ away from being commissioned.

“The sad thing about that project is that it’s only 20 megawatts. When you look at renewable energy and solar energy around the world, you see that so many nations are investing in schemes and in projects that are in the hundreds of megawatts.

“In a country like Australia, we should be doing the same.”

Sunday’s rally preceded the 2014 Community Energy Congress, which will be held on Monday and Tuesday at the National Library. About 300 delegates are expected to attend from across Australia and overseas.


June 16, 2014 Posted by | ACT, wind | Leave a comment

Victoria’s community Hepburn Wind farm at risk as government reviews Renewable Energy Target

Renewable Energy Target review sparks fears for wind farm 11 Jun 2014,  Investors in Australia’s first community-owned wind farm near Daylesford say the venture could fail, if changes are made to the Renewable Energy Target. The Federal Government has ordered a review into the pledge of producing 20 per cent of power from renewable sources by 2020. People involved in the Hepburn Wind project met members of the review panel in Daylesford yesterday. Hepburn Wind’s founding chairman, Simon Holmes Court, says scrapping the target would cost locals thousands of dollars. “I can’t sugar-coat it – the project will not be able to continue in its current form,” he said. wind-Hepburn-community-farm Hepburn has operated turbines since 2011. Director David Perry says the cost would not just be financial. “Perhaps the most painful thing would be to have all that time and passion over the years lost,” he said. The panel toured the wind farm and congratulated Hepburn Wind on its work.

June 13, 2014 Posted by | Victoria, wind | Leave a comment

Queensland govt to intervene on the side of wind power opponents?

astroturf-windWind farm opponents welcome intervention ABC Rural    By Charlie McKillop, 12 June 14, Queensland Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney will determine the fate of a controversial wind farm proposed on the far north’s Atherton Tableland.

Mr Seeney has informed the Mareeba Council he’s decided to ‘call in’ the development application to establish 75 wind turbines at Mt Emerald, about 100 kilometres west of Cairns.

The move has been welcomed by both the mayor of Mareeba, Tom Gilmore, and opponents of the wind farm, who agree the size and complexity of the assessment is beyond the technical and financial resources of the council.

But Steve Lavis, from the Tablelands Wind Turbine Action Group, admits he has reservations about the decision being taken out of the local community…….

June 13, 2014 Posted by | Queensland, wind | Leave a comment

Victoria’s Ararat wind farm project in jeopardy, due to uncertainty over Renewable Energy Target

wind-turb-smWind future up in the air with renewable energy target uncertainty  By KARA IRVING May 22, 2014, THE developer of the Ararat Wind Farm project believes the federal government’s renewable energy target (RET) review has caused uncertainty among green energy developers, investors and retailers. RES Australia is behind the $450 million Ararat Wind Farm to be built on the Pyrenees Highway about 17 kilometres from Ararat. Head of development Annette Deveson said the ongoing RET review had stirred uncertainty in the green energy sector.

“We are working very hard to get the Ararat Wind Farm ready for construction,” Ms Deveson said. “But the government is causing uncertainty in the industry and for us.” The federal government is currently reviewing the RET to examine the operation, costs and benefits of the scheme.

The RET was developed to ensure 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2020. 

Although a decision had yet to be made about the renewable energy targets, Ms Deveson said the review had caused difficulties for prospective green energy developers. They are not out there in the market looking for new projects,” she said. “As a business you are uncertain of your future market.”

Ms Deveson said the potential change impacted on investor confidence. Ararat Rural City Council last Friday made a submission to the RET review to pledge the importance of the project. 

Mayor Paul Hooper said it was likely the wind farm would not be built because of the review. The project will create 13 full time jobs after the construction has finished,” he said. “About $75,000 will be put back into community grants.”Mr Harper said the Ararat community would miss out if the project were to cease.“We will not see those benefits come to town, nor the long term employment opportunities,” he said.

“The community misses out.”

May 23, 2014 Posted by | Victoria, wind | Leave a comment

Tasmania’s successful renewable energy industry faces loss of investment if Renewable Energy Target is scrapped

map-tasmania-wind.1Hydro Tasmania warns scrapping Renewable Energy Target will kill off investment By Lucy Shannon Australia’s largest renewable energy generator Hydro Tasmania has warned major projects will not go ahead if the Federal Government scraps the Renewable Energy Target Scheme.

The scheme, established by the Howard Government in 2001, aims to have 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity coming from renewable sources by 2020.

The Federal Government is reviewing the RET scheme, as required under legislation. Prime Minister Tony Abbott has faced strong internal pressure to scrap the target from both the Nationals and many Liberals who believe it has pushed up power prices.

Hydro Tasmania, a state-owned business, has made its submission to the review panel. Hydro Chief Stephen Davy says the RET has stimulated $18 billion worth of investment across the country. Mr Davy says if the scheme is scrapped the proposed $2 billion dollar wind farm for Tasmania’s King Island will not go ahead.

“It would almost certainly terminate any further investment in large scale renewable energy projects, and put at risk the long term viability of existing renewable energy assets,” he said.

A second electricity interconnector with Victoria would also be unlikely.

Hydro ‘vital to economy’

The submission points to the “vital and ongoing economic contribution” Hydro makes to Tasmania’s economy. It says more than $60 million was spent with Tasmanian businesses to support the construction of the Musselroe wind farm and more than 200 workers will be employed over the life of the project.

Mr Davy says with the expected abolition of the carbon price the RET is the “only long-term, large scale policy that can drive the uptake of zero-emissions energy sources.”

Last year, Hydro Tasmania announced a record pre-tax profit of $238 million dollars largely on the back of the carbon price which added $70 million to its coffers.

The Greens Senator, Christine Milne says Tasmania should be very fearful of the Government’s review.

“It’s been clear from the start that this is a sham, virtually all the people they’ve got on the review are climate sceptics, they support the old fossil fuel sector and they see renewable energy as competition to the old order,” she said. A spokesman for Greg Hunt says the review’s terms of reference specifically mention sovereign risk as an issue that will be considered by the panel.

There is no fixed date yet for when the report will be delivered.

May 20, 2014 Posted by | Tasmania, wind | Leave a comment


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