Australian news, and some related international items

Senators out to sabotage wind energy industry

Senators could demand wind power restrictions in RET scheme, The Age,  May 19, 2015   National political reporter Crossbenchers are set to demand the government shut wind power out of a portion of Australia’s renewable energy target, in exchange for backing the inclusion of native timber burning.

Day, Bob nukesLiberal Democratic senator David Leyonhjelm, Family First senator Bob Day and independent John Madigan will support the government’s proposal to bring wood waste into the scheme, but could seek conditions that would reserve part of the 33,000 gigawatt-hour target for solar and hydro power only.

The three senators are vocal opponents of wind turbines and sit on a parliamentarywind-farm-evil-1 committee examining their health effects that held public hearings in Canberra on Tuesday……..

Leyonhjelm,-DavidHe [David Leyonhjelm] said the senators were also talking about conditions they could seek for wind power to “prevent people from getting sick”.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale said he feared this could see the Senate debate being sidetracked by views that were anti-science.

“The first place to start is that there is not one medical scientific body anywhere in the world that accepts wind turbines cause physiological illness,” he said.

“What’s really most disappointing in this is that it’s the aggressive anti-wind stance adopted by politicians and some members of the community that spreads alarm … and is a potential cause for some of the symptoms people experience.”

Independent senator Nick Xenophon said he was concerned solar and hydro projects could be “crowded out” of the renewable energy scheme by wind power.

May 20, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, wind | 1 Comment

We need a proper judicial investigation of wind farm danger claims


a judge should investigate the following:

1. ‘Abandoned homes’

How many Australian families have really “abandoned” their homes near wind farms,………

2. Medical records

The judge should request the medical records of complainants from periods both before and after the operation of wind farms……

3. Has there ever been a wind disease diagnosis?

Next, public notices should be placed in the press and publicised in the attempt to find any medical practitioner who has ever diagnosed even a single case of “wind turbine syndrome” in Australia. 

4. Experimental tests

Claims made by prominent opponents of wind farms that wind turbines can rock a stationary car at 1 km, cause lips to vibrate 10km away, “bring some men to their knees when out working in their paddock” near wind farms and be heard 100km away could be easily subjected to tests under blinded experimental conditions……..

5. Magical mystery tour

Similarly, Senator Madigan may like to cooperate in organising a fully supervised experiment where those claiming to be adversely affected by wind turbines at distances up to 10km could have this claim experimentally tested……..

Let’s appoint a judge to investigate bizarre wind farm health claims The Conversation,  Simon Chapman Professor of Public Health at University of Sydney 14 May 2015,  On April 30, 2015, South Australian Family First Senator Bob Day published an opinion piece on his website titled Wind turbines’ inconvenient truth. In gotcha-style exuberation, Senator Day noted that wind turbine motors incorporate rare earths, which are often sourced from heavily polluting mining in inner Mongolia.

Highlighting in bold an excerpt from a 2011 Daily Mail report, Day emphasised:

Whenever we purchase products that contain rare earth metals, we are unknowingly taking part in massive environmental degradation and the destruction of communities.

The subtext was plain: green wind energy supporters are indifferent to the environment and suffering and so are massive hypocrites.

A small problem with this accusation is that by far the main use of rare earths are not in wind turbine motors, but in a wide range of electronics that include billions of mobile phones, computers, DVDs and fluorescent lights, all of which Senator Day uses himself.

Senator Day, who has no training or experience in assessing medical evidence, also wrote to The Australian recently that he had heard “compelling” evidence about the adverse effects of wind turbines on humans and animals. Continue reading

May 15, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, wind | Leave a comment

Prosperity for Victorian farmers hosting wind farms

There are jobs and prosperity blowin’ in the wind  MAY 06, 2015

“THE single biggest investment in rural Victoria.” That’s how Municipal Association of Victoria president Bill McArthur described the $5 billion worth of new wind farms waiting to be built in Victoria.

This recognition of the sheer scale of the opportunity the wind farms present to regional Victoria is a welcome turn in the debate. In much of the discussion around wind farms, the interests of regional Victoria are too often overlooked. How to keep farming businesses viable. How to keep tenants in the shops along the main street. How to provide the jobs that will draw the next generation of families back to small towns and farms.

These are questions country Australia has constantly had to address.

wind-turbines-and-sheepWind farms fit with farming. Wind towers use only a fraction of a farmer’s land and add valuable access tracks, improving farm viability.

Wind farm lease payments bring a 25-year income stream on to farms and that money returns to the local economy through things such as farm upgrades, the hire of local labour and purchases from local businesses.

A full-time work force can make a huge difference to a small town and guaranteed rates income has already become vital for shires like Moyne, Pyrenees and Southern Grampians.

Crucially, wind farms don’t use a drop of water. As southeast Australia becomes drier, a large-scale energy source that makes no call on our precious water supplies will become all the more important.

But there’s no such thing as a free lunch. As The Weekly Times editorial recognised last month, more wind farms will bring a “long-term change to our beloved landscape”. Visually, wind farms are a big deal, but whether people like the look of them or not can’t be the main driver.

An end to the Federal Government’s attack on the renewable energy target will bring a once-in-a-generation investment boom to regional Victoria. Our choice is to embrace this and make it work, or just hope that another opportunity like it might one day turn up.

Andrew Bray is Australian Wind Alliance national co-ordinator

May 6, 2015 Posted by | Victoria, wind | Leave a comment

Australian Capital Territory helps Victoria’s wind energy industry to get going

WIND-FARMCoonooer Bridge Wind Farm a renewable win for Victoria in dire environment, SMH April 28, 2015  Environment editor, The Age It’s been a torrid few years for renewable energy in Australia, with jobs being shed and investment drying up. The Victoria landscape has been no exception.

So it is perhaps to some state shame that one of the few recent Victorian projects to get the financial go-ahead has been backed by the Australian Capital Territory.

On Tuesday renewable energy firm Windlab​ announced it has signed a deal with a Japanese company for the final financing for a $50 million wind farm north-west of Bendigo, meaning construction will now begin mid-year.

The Coonooer​ Bridge Wind Farm will have a modest six turbines and generate up to 19.4 megawatts of power, enough for 14,000 homes It is one of three wind projects supported by the ACT government via feed-in-tariffs, with winning projects selected earlier this year through an auction. Company RES Australia was also backed to build a 80.5 megawatt wind farm near Ararat.

The auctions are part of the ACT’s goal to have 90 per cent of its electricity needs come from renewable power by 2020. Continue reading

April 30, 2015 Posted by | ACT, Victoria, wind | Leave a comment

AUDIO: Wind power subsidising New South Wales farmers

Hear-This-wayAUDIO: Farmers use wind farm rent to pay on-farm costs ABC NSW Country Hour 24 Apr 15
Joshua Becker 
Farmers in south-east New South Wales are using wind farm rent to subsidise on-farm costs.  AUDIO: Farmer uses rent from wind farm to pay for on weed management (ABC Rural)


Howard Charles is one of 17 farmers who have wind turbines from the Boco Rock Wind Farm on their properties west of Nimmitabel in south-east NSW.

He said money from hosting wind farms on his property had helped him tackle noxious weeds on his property.

“With the two towers on our farm the extra income from the rent certainly helps with controlling the weeds, which is a never ending problem, serrated tussock in particular,” he said.

“I don’t see any downside, we are the closest house to the wind farm, some of the towers are less than a kilometre from here, even with prevailing winds we don’t hear it, I don’t see it. I do wonder what all the fuss is about sometimes.

“They’re certainly not interfering with our agriculture at all and I think we’re going to wake up down the track to the fact that renewable energy is pretty important.

“The most telling comment I’ve had about this [wind farm] is – ‘thank God we’re not the Hunter Valley’…….

April 25, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, wind | Leave a comment

Flinders Island to be Asia Pacific benchmark for renewable energy-powered remote communities

renewable-energy-pictureRenewable energy and potable water for Flinders Island community
ABC Rural By Rosemary Grant 22 Apr 15 The Bass Strait community of Flinders Island says two major projects to deliver clean water and electricity represent the future for remote settlements.
Over the 18 months, $25 million will be spent; half on a renewable energy scheme, and the rest on potable water for the main towns of Whitemark and Lady Barron.

Flinders Mayor Carol Cox said replacing old fossil fuel power stations with a new lower carbon energy source was a global aim.

Mrs Cox said it was the third time the council had tried to get a reliable renewable electricity system, and the funding commitment would make Flinders Island the benchmark for remote communities………

Mrs Cox said existing wind power would be integrated with a new wind energy generator, solar energy panels at the airport and a new solar energy field around the power station.

Hydro Tasmania will design and install the new $12.9 million multi-source renewable electricity system on Flinders Island.

Project manager Simon Gamble said it was an exciting prototype that would be the benchmark for remote communities in the Pacific and Asia. Continue reading

April 23, 2015 Posted by | solar, Tasmania, wind | 1 Comment

Wind energy company gives up on Australia due to RET uncertainty

Renewable energy sector crisis forces Banco Santander to quit Taralga wind farm, SMH,  March 31, 2015  Angela Macdonald-Smith Banco Santander, a major investor in renewable energy, will sell its only Australian wind farm and exit the local sector because of policy uncertainty that has dragged the industry into crisis.

Santander will seek a buyer for its 90 per cent stake in the 106.8 megawatt Taralga wind farm near Goulburn, which is not being included in the renewable energy fund it set up late last year with two Canadian pension giants because of the perceived poor prospects for the sector in Australia, say sources………

Santander is closing the Sydney office for its equity investment arm, which focuses on renewable energy, in mid-2015.

April 2, 2015 Posted by | New South Wales, wind | Leave a comment

Victoria about to get 854 wind turbines worth $5 billion

854 wind turbines worth $5 billion ready to be built in Victoria CHRIS MCLENNAN THE WEEKLY TIMES APRIL 01, 2015

wind-Hepburn-community-farmWIND farms worth almost $5 billion are poised to be built across Victoria.Thirteen projects with 854 turbines have won municipal council and State Government support and are ready to go.

Wind farms near Mortlake, Ballarat, Ararat, Warrnambool, Port Fairy, Ballan, Colac and St Arnaud can turn the soil the moment the Federal Government implements a new Renewable Energy Target scheme…….

……AGL Energy has built big wind farms at Oaklands Hill and Macarthur costing $1.18 billion. In its submission to the Senate wind farm inquiry AGL ­Energy estimates it has created 875 direct and indirect jobs in rural Victoria.

Northern Grampians Shire Council Mayor Murray ­Emerson said his council last week approved the Enerfin proposal. “It is a $460 million project, individually it would be the biggest investment in the shire’s history,” Cr Emerson said.

“Small rural shires like ours are battling all the time and the economic benefits from a project of this scale would be incredibly welcome.”Ararat Rural City Mayor Paul Hooper, who spoke at the Portland inquiry on Monday, said there were wind farm projects worth $1.68 billion ready to begin in his shire.

“This is an industry we ­already know very well and our residents support, we have a community which is pro-wind farm. “There are lots of jobs in construction, benefits from rates and the farms benefit which host them. “Rural shires have low populations and big areas to service, so a free kick of this magnitude is something we are very excited about.”

MAV president Cr ­McArthur said the dollar ­investment from wind farms “was astronomical”.

…….Victorian Energy and Resources Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the Government was promoting wind farms because of job creation and regional development and impact on greenhouse gas.

Ms D’Ambrosio said the Government had recently reduced the exclusion zone from winds farms from 2km to 1km to help create even more projects. She said developments would now be approved by the state’s planning minister.

Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber said wind farms “would be a boon” to small rural councils with limited rate income.

Mr Barber said the pressure was on the State Government as well as the Federal RET negotiations “to make the wind farms happen”

April 1, 2015 Posted by | Victoria, wind | Leave a comment

Victorian Labor government makes regulations easier for wind farms

WIND-FARMAustralian state of Victoria open for wind energy business Robin Whitlock Friday, 20 March 2015  The Victorian State Government in Australia has made some regulatory changes in order to make the state more attractive to wind farm developers.The changes will help to unlock billions of dollars in investment, providing a bipartisan deal can be reached on Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET). The director of the Clean Energy Council (CEC), Russell Marsh, said that under restrictive rules introduced by the previous government, a coal mine could be built closer to homes in the state than a wind turbine.

“It is important to get the balance right between attracting renewable energy investment to Victoria and ensuring that the voice of communities is heard when building a wind farm” Mr Marsh said. “But the restrictions introduced by the previous government simply drove wind farm companies to other states and robbed Victoria of investment and job opportunities in regional communities. New wind farm applications virtually dried up after these new measures were introduced.”

Mr Marsh added that it is fantastic to see the Andrews Government recognising the need for change and acting to address some of the most draconian parts of the former governmental legislation, which is clearly a step in the right direction.

The changes will mean that the 2 kilometre setback distance between houses and wind turbines will be reduced to 1 kilometre. The Planning Minister will decide on wind farm applications and local councils will be responsible for regulating new and existing wind farms. The ongoing review of the national RET by the Federal Government has led to an 88 percent reduction in investment in large renewable energy projects such as wind farms across the country over the course of last year. The RET remains the industry’s highest priority and bipartisan support for a strong RET needs to be secured in order to return investment and stability to the renewable energy industry. According to Mr Marsh, once this happens, the industry can look forward to working with the Victorian Government to build renewable energy infrastructure and pass the many benefits of that onto rural and regional parts of the state.

In turn, this will provide direct employment and will also provide flow-on benefits to local contractors, suppliers, shops, restaurants, accommodation providers and much more while wind farms are being constructed.

For additional information:  Clean Energy Council   Victorian Government

March 21, 2015 Posted by | Victoria, wind | Leave a comment

Western Australia’s huge wind power potential blocked by Federal and State governments

While there are only three large-scale wind farms in WA, smaller community-based operations have been successful at locations including Denmark, Bremer Bay, Rottnest Island, Kalbarri, Denham and Coral Bay.

An expansion of the Albany wind farm means it meets 80 per cent of the town’s power needs.

wind farm Alnany WA

Wind power: WA wind farms ineffective for renewable energy TREVOR PADDENBURG PERTHNOW MARCH 16, 2015 WA is one of the windiest places on the planet with wide open spaces for wind farms, yet the state remains a renewable energy backwater, latest figures reveal.

Clean Energy Council data for significant wind farm projects shows WA generates less than 500MW of power from a total of 308 turbines around the state.

That’s half of Victoria’s wind generation at 939MW from 454 turbines and well below South Australia, which generates 1205MW of electricity from 561 turbines.

One reason is debate about health effects and noise emissions from wind turbines, even though numerous studies including a recent National Health and Medical Research Council review ruled there was no truth to claims that turbines cause health effects.

Aside from the question of health effects, the wind energy industry in WA is in crisis from a political double whammy, with the Federal Government signalling it wants to scrap Australia’s renewable energy target and the WA Government signing new contracts that tie electricity production to coal.

Estimates put investment in large-scale renewable energy projects in 2014 at 10 per cent of the figure for 2013.

That’s despite the Australian Institute saying wind had the potential to supply 40 per cent of Australia’s energy needs and was now cheaper to produce than coal.

Clean Energy Council policy director Russell Marsh said WA should be a world leader but it remained in the doldrums, underfunded and undervalued by governments fixated on coal.

“WA has a great wind resource and the space. But the review of the renewable energy target has basically closed the industry down,” he said. Continue reading

March 18, 2015 Posted by | Western Australia, wind | Leave a comment

Queensland wind farm decision due this month, but anti-wind lobby is active

wind-nuclear-Decision on controversial Tableland wind farm due mid-March DANIEL BATEMAN THE CAIRNS POST FEBRUARY 28, 2015

A CONTROVERSIAL wind farm planned for the Tableland could be approved within the next two weeks. The Palaszczuk Government is expected to make a decision about the Mt Emerald wind farm, four years after the project was first tabled.

A spokeswoman for Deputy Premier Jackie Trad said the Minister’s call-in of the development application was due in mid-March.

Developers for the $380 million project gave the Government until the end of February to approve the wind farm, which was awaiting a ministerial decision before the election was called. The development, to be built near Walkamin, between Atherton and Mareeba, is to include up to 63 turbines on towers about 80m-90m tall, with about 50m blades.

The farm, a joint venture between Ratch Australia and Port Bajool, has the potential to generate enough electricity to power at least 75,000 homes.

It is estimated 158 jobs could be created during the ­development’s two-year construction phase.

Ratch Australia spokesman Geoff Dutton said representatives from the company’s Brisbane office had recently met with the newly elected Government to brief it on the project.“I think Ratch would be delighted in getting an answer after four years of hard work,’’ he said.

“We’re very hopeful the wind farm will be approved. Continue reading

March 1, 2015 Posted by | Queensland, wind | Leave a comment

A clear economic case for the Australian government to support renewable energy

On reflection: Why Australia should not give up on renewables, Wind Power Monthly,  27 February 2015 by Alicia Webb , 

As the government battles to reduce the current renewables policy, the Australian wind industry is experiencing lost jobs and dwindling economic opportunities. Yet, there is a clear economic case for continuing renewables support.

Uncertainty and missed opportunity have been the recent themes for the Australian wind industry. While the country’s renewable energy target (RET) had enjoyed well over a decade of bipartisan support from the major political parties, the federal government plan to slash the level of the policy froze investment and resulted in many lost jobs and economic opportunities last year.

But the government does not have enough support to change legislation, and so the debate drags on. And, while the government looks for support from the opposition or a rag-tag alliance of senators from various smaller political parties, the RET’s uncertain future means the country is squandering billions of dollars in potential investment while interest in wind power and other renewables flourishes across the globe…….

The review undertook comprehensive modelling of prices. It found that any scenario in which the RET is cut would result in higher power prices for consumers from 2020, and that the scenarios that would deliver the most renewable energy were those that would also result in the lowest power prices over the life of the legislated policy. With the RET as it is, more than 18,000 jobs would be created and power bills would be lower in the long-term than they otherwise would be. Cut the RET to 27TWh by 2020, and 6,200 jobs will be lost and the average power bill will go up by A$42/year. Remove the RET altogether and by 2020, 11,800 jobs will be lost and the average power bill increases by A$56.

One of the reasons for this is that there is direct evidence of wind energy pushing wholesale electricity prices down. The Australian Energy Market Operator found in 2014 that in South Australia, the state with the highest wind penetration, wind farms have “low operating costs and tend to offer energy to the market at low prices”…….

February 28, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wind | Leave a comment

Australian government delay on Renewable Energy Target is stifling projects

switch_on_renewables“This review started on 17 Feb 2014, and one year since that review commenced it really needs to be resolved so this project and other projects can proceed.”

“If you have a review every two years, and then it takes a year to undertake the review, there’s not much gap between one review and the other, so a key change that’s required in this legislation is to remove those two-yearly reviews.”

Wind farm owner calls for resolution one year after start of Renewable Energy Target review By Kerrin Thomas The new owner of an undeveloped wind farm on the Northern Tablelands says the Government’s review of the Renewable Energy Target has gone on for long enough.

It’s been 12 months since the review started, and under the current legislation the Target is reviewed every two years.

Goldwind Australia last year purchased the White Rock Wind Farm project, between Glen Innes and Inverell, and is working to prepare the Construction Environmental Management Plan, and the next round of community engagement will take place over the coming months.

The wind farm has development approval.

The company’s Managing Director John Titchen said industry uncertainty created by the review could impact the project, and the RET review needs to be finalised. Continue reading

February 20, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wind | Leave a comment

Over last 6 months, wind energy in Australia exceeded hydro generation

Parkinson-Report-Wind energy overtakes hydro for first time in Australia [good graph]  By  on 12 February 2015  The Australian wind energy industry achieved a milestone in January, with wind generation exceeding hydro generation for the first time.

According to data compiled by Green Energy Markets, the wind industry boosted production to its highest level in six months -thanks to good wind speeds – while hydro generation fell sharply from previous years, mostly as a result of the carbon price repeal, which has removed much of the incentive for the hydro generators to increase production.

This graph below [in original]  illustrates the change. In January, wind energy generated 893,352MWh, while hydro generated 884,730MWh.

The GEM data shows that NEM wind generators achieved more than 36 per cent capacity factor in the month of January, the highest level in six months.Wind farm generators such as Infigen Energy recorded significantly lower generation in the six months to December due to lower wind speeds.

As for hydro, the output from most generators (other than Dartmouth) is well below their average baseline levels at the end of January. Hydro generation from Tasmania in particular, is 38 per cent below levels at the same time a year ago – when hydro plants there generated a lot to take advantage of carbon price.

Total hydro generation over the last three months has been at its lowest level for more than three years. i.e. since before the carbon price was introduced.

However, the overall share of renewable energy in Australia in January fell to 11.7 per cent, compared to its peak of more than 18 per cent in August, September and October in 2013. The figure does not include the nearly 4,000GW of rooftop solar, which accounts for between two and three per cent of overall demand, although much of it is not metered.

February 14, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wind | Leave a comment

‘Wind Turbine Sickness’ -National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to do yet another study!

wind-farm-evil-1Research council calls for further study into ‘wind turbine sickness’, sets aside $500,000 in grants, ABC News 12 Feb 15 By online environment editor Sara Phillips The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Australia’s premier health research body, has called for Australian scientists to look into so-called “wind turbine sickness”, saying that very few scientifically rigorous studies have been done.

The council has set aside $500,000 in funding grants for the research.

Wind turbine sickness is a list of medical complaints that includes headaches, nausea and anxiety and depression. It is said to be caused by proximity to wind turbines, as well as the sound and inaudible “infrasound” they produce.

After a comprehensive review of publications about wind turbine sickness, in which it amassed more than 4,000 documents from across the world, the council concluded there was “no direct evidence that exposure to wind farm noise affects physical or mental health”.

But Professor Warwick Anderson, chief executive of the NHMRC, said it was “terribly hard to prove a negative”.

Concerns about wind turbine sickness led to the Victorian Government’s introduction of a two-kilometre buffer between new wind turbines and houses in 2011.

The New South Wales Government later followed suit………

The NHRMC released the final version of the report on Wednesday. A draft was released last year and opened for public comment.

The review also considered related reports into noise, such as road traffic or industrial noise.

Based on these studies, the council concluded that noise effects from wind farms are unlikely to be felt or heard more than 1,500 metres away.

“At this distance, wind farm noise is usually below 30-35dBA, below the noise levels of household devices and similar to a quiet residential area,” the report said.

Infrasound was at “levels are similar to those at other locations (for example, at the beach, in the vicinity of a coastal cliff, near a gas-fired power station and in a city centre away from major roads).”…….

The Clean Energy Council welcomed the findings of the report, but questioned the need for further research.

“While the NHMRC has called for more research into potential health impacts within 1,500 metres of a wind farm, the evidence to support this is weak,” policy director Russell Marsh said.

“Australia already has some of the world’s strictest regulations for wind farms, and we know that further scientific research will only reinforce the fact that wind energy is one of the safest and cleanest forms of energy generation in the world.”……

February 12, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wind | Leave a comment


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