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. http://www.smh.com.au/business/renewable-energy-sector-crisis-forces-banco-santander-to-quit-taralga-wind-farm-20150331-1mbjsk.html
854 wind turbines worth $5 billion ready to be built in Victoria CHRIS MCLENNAN THE WEEKLY TIMES APRIL 01, 2015
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” http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/news/national/wind-turbines-worth-5-billion-ready-to-be-built-in-victoria/story-fnkfnspy-1227286154627
Australian state of Victoria open for wind energy business http://www.renewableenergymagazine.com/article/australian-state-of-victoria-open-for-wind-20150320 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.
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 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
Decision on controversial Tableland wind farm due mid-March http://www.cairnspost.com.au/news/cairns/decision-on-controversial-tableland-wind-farm-due-mid-march/story-fnjpusyw-1227242229621 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
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”…….http://www.windpowermonthly.com/article/1335304/reflection-why-australia-not-give-renewables
“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 http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-18/wind-farm-owner-calls-for-resolution-12-months-on-from-start-of-/6141408 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
Wind energy overtakes hydro for first time in Australia http://reneweconomy.com.au/2015/wind-energy-overtakes-hydro-for-first-time-in-australia-17364 [good graph] By Giles Parkinson 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.
‘Wind Turbine Sickness’ -National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) to do yet another study!
Research 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.”……http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-02-11/research-council-calls-for-study-of-wind-turbine-sickness/6086546
Some 44 Australian windfarm projects, about half overseas-funded, have been shelved since a new conservative government said it wanted to cut state support for the industry a year ago, with investors and operators saying they are considering either downscaling or leaving the country altogether if it succeeds.
Even Australian windfarm companies such as Infigen and Pacific Hydro have effectively shelved their Australian operations, with Infigen saying it plans to pour all its financial muscle into the more amenable U.S. market.
“It’s a difficult time at the moment, and the policy uncertainty is the main cause of it,” said Shaq Mohajerani, an Australian spokesman for wind farm company Union Fenosa, owned by Spanish energy giant Gas Natural.
“We’re still considering all options on how to proceed. The parent company will provide us with the strategy.”
A Gas Natural spokesperson said the firm had an “attractive backlog” in Australia but “we are waiting for the whole development of the new framework for renewable energy and hope our presence … in the country can be maintained”.
Wind power in Australia is not the only renewable energy sector to be affected by uncertainty over government subsidies or actual cuts. ……
Windfarms are Australia’s No. 2 renewable energy source, behind hydropower but ahead of solar, providing a quarter of the country’s clean energy and 4 percent of its total energy demand.
But while households can collect rebates for installing their own rooftop solar panels, windfarms rely on “certificates”, or tradeable securities handed out by the government, to offset costs.
That support hit a roadblock a year ago when new conservative prime minister Tony Abbott ordered a review of the country’s target for clean energy use by 2020, which ultimately recommended slashing it by a third, in line with falling overall energy demand. A lower target would mean a lower certificate price……..
A spokeswoman for U.S.-owned GE Australia & New Zealand, which has stakes in several renewable energy projects, said further investment “will only occur once investor confidence in the policy environment is restored. For this to happen, bipartisan support regarding the future of the renewable energy target is essential.”
The Australian arm of Spanish infrastructure group Acciona, the world’s largest renewable energy firm, has frozen about A$750 million of windfarm projects because of the stalemate, said local managing director Andrew Thomson.
“When you’re a subsidiary (of a global business), you’re competing for capital, you’re competing for your budget allocation next year,” he said.
“If the parent company can’t see that there’s a stable environment it becomes really difficult to get traction. For us at the moment it’s a really difficult sell.”
If the renewable energy target is cut, “it’s the type of jolt to industry that basically would create such an upheaval that you would have a mass exodus”, said Alex Hewitt, managing director of Bulgarian-Polish-U.S.-backed windfarm operator CWP Renewables, which has A$1.5 billion of projects on ice.
“I can’t say whether we’d completely exit the country, but you would be looking at such a level of reduction in the level of investment into people in the company that it would be very significant,” Hewitt said. http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2015/02/08/australian-windfarms-face-13-billion-wipe-out-political-impasse
Upper Hunter wind and solar farm operator undeterred by RET changes http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-01-31/upper-hunter-wind-and-solar-farm-operator-undeterred-by-ret-cha/6059566 The company behind a massive Upper Hunter wind and solar farm has not been deterred by renewable energy target changes, with work on its project now underway.
Pamada plans to have 34 wind turbines, along with its solar plant and associated substations, at its Kyoto energy Park near Scone. Access roads have been constructed, ahead of work starting on a site compound.
Reductions in the Renewable Energy Target (RET) have hampered the project, but project director Mark Sydney said he is determined to push ahead. “We’ve got a lot of support in the community, for a whole lot of reasons,” he said. “Yes we have started work.
“We have access happening, but we will then continue in a measured way to do everything we can until hopefully government policy changes a little bit better for investor outlook in renewables.”
Mr Sydney said his company is undeterred by the RET changes, mindful of the benefits the project could have. “With the new technology, if you just looked at the residences and businesses aside, probably the Upper Hunter, the Hunter and half of Newcastle would come from just the wind turbines themselves,” he said. “Most of the Hunter could easily be served by just the wind farm.”
Epuron claims Abbott Government against wind energy, ABC News By Melinda Hayter 20 Jan 15 Renewable energy company, Epuron, claims federal government inaction on the Renewable Energy Target (RET) has Australians paying more for electricity than they should be.
An independent review into the target, which attracted more than 24,000 submissions, was released in August but the government is yet to release its response.
The New South Wales Greens recently cited a report which showed an 88 per cent reduction in investment in the renewable energy sector nationally last year.
Project Manager with Epuron, Donna Bolton, says banks remain wary of lending money to industry players, despite the review’s findings. “The review found that while there was a marginal increase in the cost of household electricity initially, the RET in its current state would actually bring electricity prices down,” she said.
“Despite this there’s been no action.
Epuron has windfarm interests in a number of areas of New South Wales, including the South West Slopes.
Ms Bolton says the government’s inaction has caused the industry to stall.
“It’s very difficult because it’s all about investment confidence,” she said.
“A bank looking to lend $400m, you need to know that that investment is rock solid, that the mechanisms behind it will stay in place and that your return on investment is reasonably secure.
“For some reason there is a lot of resistance, for particularly wind energy, in the current federal government, Ms Bolton said……“I believe the Abbott Government is firm in its belief that it wants to develop the coal industry to the maximum before that gate closes,” she said…..http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-01-20/ret-comment/6026696
ACT wind energy auction: And the winners are …. REneweconomy, By Giles Parkinson on 14 January 2015 The ACT government’s wind energy auction has thrown up some surprising winners, and none of the planned 200MW of wind turbines will be built within a bull’s roar of the nation’s capital, if market intelligence is correct. The ACT government advised the winning tenderers of their success just before Christmas, and have until early February to prove that they have the finance in place to build the projects.
The winners have not been publicly announced, and will be kept confidential. But through a process of elimination – i.e. by crossing out those among the 18 project tenders who concede they didn’t make it, there are three likely winners.
They are the Hornsdale wind project in South Australia – regarded as the country’s most prospective wind project because of its excellent wind resources. Industry estimates suggest that the project could be a go-er with a tariff of around $80/MWh…………
The second winner is thought to the small Coonooer Bridge wind project in Victoria. This is owned by Windlab, a spinoff of CSIRO which is based in Canberra. Coonoer is likely to be just 18MW, but will also likely have a level of community ownership through an innovative structure that we discussed here.
The third project is less certain but is thought to be the Ararat project owned by RES, also based in Victoria. It is also bidding for less than half of its nominated capacity of more than 220MW.
The ACT wind energy auction is important to the wind industry in Australia because the sector has been at a standstill for nearly two years. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, no new wind projects were financed in Australia in 2014 because of the Federal government’s attempts to nobble the renewable energy target.
That helped cause an 88 per cent slump in large scale clean energy investment, and pushed Australia down from 11th position to 39th in the world, below Myanmar and Honduras. For some international investors, the ACT auction was considered to be the last hope in Australia, given the uncertainty that continues around the RET.
Contrary to the federal government, which sees its future in coal, the ACT government hopes to source 90 per cent of its electricity needs from renewable energy sources by 2020. It will do this through a series of auctions – 40MW of large scale solar already completed, an initial run of 200MW of wind, and around 50MW of other large scale solar projects including storage, and 23MW of waste-to-energy projects.
The ACT government raised the prospect of winning tenders going to other states if the price was cheaper, although it did profess to have a strong “local content” component of the tender………….http://reneweconomy.com.au/2015/act-wind-energy-auction-and-the-winners-are-25695
“I’m glad that we will no longer be lending legitimacy to an organisation that may be harming people in an effort to undermine an important source of clean and renewable energy.”……..
Simon Chapman, a professor of public health at Sydney University, said the foundation had “made it their business” to spread fear and mistrust of wind turbines……..
The Waubra foundation is named after the Victorian town of Waubra, which has become a hub for wind-powered energy, with 128 turbines in the area.
Many of the town’s inhabitants have distanced themselves from the group, and called on it to remove the town’s name from its title…….http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/dec/19/removal-of-anti-windfarm-groups-charity-status-is-a-victory-for-science
“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 http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/south-australias-270mw-snowtown-takes-wind-energy-to-new-highs-43971 By Sophie Vorrath on 3 November 2014