Wind 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”……….http://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/news/politics/wind-companies-question-planning-office-response/story-fnkerdda-1226997709510
Big savings from renewable energy target but consumers miss out, SMH July 2, 2014 Peter Hannam 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. http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/big-savings-from-renewable-energy-target-but-consumers-miss-out-20140702-zstn1.html#ixzz36XYUb9LS
Farmers, activists warn against reducing renewable energy target on Global Wind Energy Day http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/farmers-activists-warn-against-reducing-renewable-energy-target-on-global-wind-energy-day-20140615-zs8ix.html June 16, 2014 Markus Mannheim 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.
Renewable Energy Target review sparks fears for wind farm http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-11/renewable-energy-target-review-sparks-fears-for/5514354 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. 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.
Wind 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…….http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-12/wind-farm-opponents-hopeful-about-intervention/5519106
Wind future up in the air with renewable energy target uncertainty http://www.thecourier.com.au/story/2301438/wind-future-up-in-the-air-with-renewable-energy-target-uncertainty/?cs=12 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.” email@example.com
Tasmania’s successful renewable energy industry faces loss of investment if Renewable Energy Target is scrapped
Hydro Tasmania warns scrapping Renewable Energy Target will kill off investment http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-19/hydro-tasmania-warns-scrapping-renewable-energy-target-will-kil/5463404 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.
Napthine pledges continued push for renewable energy investment http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-19/napthine-pledges-continued-push-for-renewable/5461022 19 May 2014, Premier Denis Napthine says he will work with renewable energy companies in south-west Victoria, amid concerns about their future.
The Federal Government axed the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and Clean Energy Finance Corporation in last week’s budget.
It is also reviewing the Renewable Energy Target.
Portland-based company Keppel Prince makes towers for wind turbines and says 150 jobs are at risk.
Dr Napthine says he hopes planned projects go ahead.
“We’ll continue to work with the Federal Government, work with the alternative energy industry, whether it’s wind energy, geothermal energy and wave energy, to see what prospects there are to continue investment in alternative energy under the new frameworks,” he said.
More renewable energy in the wind for Lady Elliot Island http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-12/more-renewable-energy-in-the-wind-for-lady-elliot/5445804 By Frances Adcock Operators on Lady Elliot Island, north-east of Bundaberg, will consider installing wind generators to further improve the island’s energy efficiency.
One-hundred new solar panels will be installed at the island’s hybrid solar power station, which has provided more than half of the island’s power since 2008.
The island’s resort manager, Peter Gash, wants the island to become even more reliant on renewable energy.
“By Christmas we’d hope to do it by, we’d like to install a 10 kilowatt wind generator which will continue to feed power into the battery and into the grid, night and day, and if we can get the success we are hoping for with our 10 to 12 kilowatt wind generator and our 73 kilowatt of solar we will be hopeful we will be somewhere up around 90 per cent renewable,” he said.
He says after the installation of the new panels, more than 70 per cent of the island will be reliant on renewable energy. “We have a barge coming out on Wednesday and there is 125 panels on that and they are 260 watts per panel and they will go up on two separate roofs, and that’s a 16 and 17 kilowatt system,” he said.
“So another 33 kilowatts, so another 125 panels, so that puts us up at 73 kilowatts of power which is a substantial amount of power.”
South Australian Wind Power – Economical And Effective http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=4299 A new report shows wind power in South Australia has not increased wholesale electricity prices, nor created a need for additional back-up power generation capacity.
Around a quarter of South Australia’s electricity is now sourced from wind power; growing substantially from just 6% in 2005/6.
The eight year study of South Australia’s electricity sector by Windlab Systems shows during the period between 2005 and 2013, wholesale electricity prices have not risen, even if the full cost of the renewable energy certificates (REC) is included. Publicly available data from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) was utilised for the study.
Reliance on expensive and emission-intensive peaking power plants has reduced as have electricity imports from Victoria states the report. Windlab says electricity related carbon emissions have plummeted 34% even though power consumption has remained stable.
“The findings should provide clear guidance to the Federal Government’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) review panel that wind energy and by association the RET should not be a scapegoat for explaining increases in domestic and business energy costs,” says Roger Price, the CEO of Windlab. “The study further underpins the conclusions of the Clean Energy Council’s commissioned report into the positive cost implications of the RET.”
The Clean Energy Council report indicates abolishing Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) would see Australian households paying billions more for electricity.
A copy of Windlab’s study report can be viewed here (PDF).
The evidence is mounting that the benefits of Australia’s Renewable Energy Target far outweigh the costs. Even so, there are fears the RET review is heading towards a “predetermined and biased outcome” that will result in the loss of thousands of jobs, billions of dollars of investment and also create additional financial burden on Australian households and businesses.
Economically depressed North Tasmania stands to lose wind farm project if Renewable Energy Target is cut.
Renewable energy fears for wind farm http://www.examiner.com.au/story/2274842/renewable-energy-fears-for-wind-farm/?cs=95 By EMILY BAKER 12 May 14, CUTS to the renewable energy target could affect a wind farm planned for the state’s economically depressed North, the project’s developer says. Low Head Wind Farm founder and director Shane Bartel yesterday said any significant cuts to the target would affect the $60 million wind farm proposed for an area east of Low Head.
Mr Bartel said the project would hire between 30 and 50 contractors in the building phase and employ five to 10 people post- construction.The project was partly driven by the federal target of 20 per cent renewable electricity production by 2020, which is under review.Low Head Wind Farm’s development application has been submitted to the government.”It’s up to the Commonwealth to approve that – we’re still working with them on that,” Mr Bartel said.
“I certainly think (a decision will be made) this month … to date, there have been no serious issues with it.”
The Australian reported on Saturday that Hydro Tasmania – which has power-purchasing agreements for its major Tasmanian wind farms Musselroe and Woolnorth – would suffer financially if there were significant cuts to the renewable energy target.
The state-owned company would not comment on the report leaked to the national newspaper but said ongoing reviews of the target had created uncertainty around wind farm revenues. “Hydro Tasmania did not confirm to The Australian the losses claimed in the story,” a statement from Hydro Tasmania said.
“It is our expectation that a positive outcome from the RET review will in fact make these figures meaningless, and our wind farm investments will be delivering the expected returns.”
Clean Energy Council deputy chief executive Kane Thornton said more than $10 billion of investment in renewable energy would be damaged if the scheme was changed. “Leaving the policy alone would create approximately 18,400 jobs by the end of the decade, additional investment of $15 billion in large-scale renewable energy and lower power bills over the medium term,” he said.
National Health and Medical Research Council finds no evidence of wind turbines negatively affecting health
NHMRC says evidence scant in wind turbine health debate ABC News 10 may 14 An initial report from the National Health and Medical Research Council has found no reliable evidence that wind turbines have a direct physical effect on health…….The review of submissions to the draft report is under-way and the final report is due out within the next few months.http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-09/tch-nhmrc-wind-health-research/5442148
$200m wind farm on west coast passes another hurdle http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-09/24200m-wind-farm-on-west-coast-passes-another-hurdle/5441192 9 May 2014 Up to 200 jobs could be created on Tasmania’s west coast after the approval of a massive wind farm project.
The $200 million Granville Harbour project has passed another hurdle after gaining approval from West Coast Council. The proponent Westcoast Wind wants to build 33 turbines which will link to Reece Dam via an 11 kilometre transmission line. The Environment Protection Authority approved the project last month and handed it back to the council to assess.
West Coast Mayor Robyn Gerrity says it was given the green light at a special council meeting last night. “It’s a great boost for us, more job creation to saddle onto the new mining developments that are happening over the next 12 to 18 months,” she said.
The venture is still looking for investors.Last month, the proponents said they were not confident of finding investors while the Federal Government reviews the Renewable Energy Target.
This may be as good as it gets for Australian wind energy http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/may-good-gets-australian-wind-energy-72276 By Giles Parkinson on 6 May 2014 New data released on Monday suggested that Australia in the month of April had reached its record level of output for wind energy – 4.6 per cent of total generation from the National Electricity Market.
Wind energy surges to record share as coal ebbs May 5, 2014 Peter Hannam Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald Wind energy’s share of Australia’s main electricity market jumped to a record last month, helping to curb emissions from the power sector even as hydro output shrank, according to energy consultancy Pitt & Sherry.
Wind farms, derided last week by Treasurer Joe Hockey as “utterly offensive” blights on the landscape, increased their share of the market to a record 4.6 per cent, up one percentage point from a year earlier, the company said in its monthly CEDEX report.
With major black-coal fired plants such as Liddell and Bayswater in NSW continuing to operate well short of capacity, greenhouse gas emissions from the National Electricity Market for the month were 5.8 million tonnes lower than a year earlier, or down 3.5 per cent.
Coal’s share of the market remained near its record low of 73.8 per cent.
However, the shift away from coal may soon be reversed as politics and markets combine to alter the economics of energy.
The Abbott government remains steadfast in its plans to remove the carbon tax – now at $24.15 a tonne – which has helped make black coal-fired plants, in particular, relatively expensive.
Senior members, including Prime Minister Tony Abbott, have also signalled their intent to weaken the Renewable Energy Target, a move likely to freeze new investments in wind farms………
Broken promise in the offing?
Mark Butler, the opposition’s climate change spokesman, said the Abbott government was “crab-walking” away from its pre-election promise to leave the Renewable Energy Target unchanged at 41,000 gigawatt-hours by 2020.
The government has set up a review of the target, led by climate change sceptic Dick Warburton, with many in the clean energy industry fearing the panel will recommend a delay and or weakening of the goals.
“This is a just another broken promise driven by ideology in face of the clear evidence that this has been a major policy success,” Mr Butler said.
While falling energy demand has contributed to falling emissions, “the big driver” for the industry has been the rise of renewables, he said.
Two-thirds of the emissions drop has been “because renewable energy increased its market share by 25 per cent in the first 12 months” of the carbon tax’s start, he said. http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/wind-energy-surges-to-record-share-as-coal-ebbs-20140505-zr4rg.html#ixzz30zIKSJIQ