Can wind turbines make you sick? Debate divides tiny Victorian town of Waubra, ABC Radio, PM By Danny Tran, 24 Mar 17, In the sleepy Victorian town of Waubra, a bitter feud over wind power is driving a wedge between neighbours and friends.
- There are 79 wind farms in Australia and more than 2,000 turbines producing 5 per cent of the nation’s electricity
- Waubra’s own wind farm is one of the largest in Australia, with 128 turbines on the properties of 37 farmers
- Wind turbine syndrome describes symptoms a small number of people claim arise from living near wind farms
About two hours north-west of Melbourne, Waubra produces enough electricity from its wind turbines to power two of Victoria’s largest regional cities.
But after almost a decade of operating, wind power remains a painful issue in the town, which is only home to about 500 people.
Waubra is so synonymous with wind power that opponents have christened the so-called illness that some claim comes with living near turbines “Waubra disease”.
The town might be at loggerheads over whether wind can make you sick, but what does the science say?
What is wind turbine syndrome?
Waubra disease, better known as wind turbine syndrome, describes a range of symptoms a small number of people claim arise from living near wind farms, ranging from headaches to nausea.
It was first coined in 2009 by New York paediatrician Dr Nina Pierpont, who claimed wind turbines disrupted the inner-ear through inaudible, low-frequency vibrations.
The claims were rubbished by science and health bodies across the world, but anti-wind power groups seized on Dr Pierpont’s claims, which quickly spread to Australia.
Experts dismiss wind turbine syndrome as the result of a “nocebo” effect, where negative expectations of symptoms can amplify an actual negative effect — the opposite of a placebo.
But that hasn’t stopped Waubra locals from taking a side………
the Australian Medical Association’s Victorian president, Dr Lorraine Barker, said that anxiety over being near wind turbines can cause symptoms of its own.
“There is no indication that infrasound, for instance, could induce the symptoms … [but] anxiety certainly can,” Dr Barker said.
“Noises that are continuous in the background can be irritating, so that level of irritation may affect someone if they are standing very close to a wind turbine.
“However, infrasound, or the sound that is beyond the detection of the human ear, is not believed to cause harm to humans.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-24/victorian-town-divided-over-wind-turbines/8373760
It actually shows the most extreme demand scenarios that it can think of – a one in ten year likelihood in this case – and graphs that over and above what it considers to be the “average” supply. Repeat. That is average supply, not total supply available.
the idiotic and ignorant reporting in the mainstream media is allowing the fossil fuel generators and their protectors in the Coalition to blind public perceptions with complete nonsense. Fake news indeed.
Fairfax joins media hysteria over post-Hazelwood “blackouts” http://reneweconomy.com.au/fairfax-joins-media-hysteria-over-post-hazelwood-blackouts-37842/
Fairfax Media led the front page of The Age newspaper (see image right) [on original] with an “exclusive” story that warned of 72 days of potential blackouts across the state over the next two summers.
“Victoria’s energy security has been thrown into question, with the state facing an unprecedented 72 days of possible power supply shortfalls over the next two years following the shutdown of the Hazelwood plant next week,” the story by Josh Gordon begins.
And how does it come to this breathless conclusion? Fairfax, like other media, such as the ABC’s political editor, Chris Uhlmann, is basing the forecasts of blackouts on this graph that appears on the website of the Australian Energy Market Operator.
It purports to show – in the light red at the top – the periods when Victoria could face a shortfall of supply. The graph for South Australia is even more dramatic. But is that really what is says? Blackouts all summer?
Not at all, says the AEMO – a reply they would happily give anyone who bothered to ask. Continue reading
there we have it. A report that says South Australia could easily aim for 40 per cent renewable energy is portrayed as a warning that 20 per cent is the natural limit. It boggles the mind.
Weatherill – to his credit – keeps on repeating that the blackouts and near misses in South Australia have not been about technology choices, but about grid management. Even AEMO agrees. But some journalists don’t want to know.
The CSIRO outlines a scenario for 86 per cent in that state by 2035. Zinc refiner Sun Metals is building a solar plant because it is cheaper than coal-fired generation in Queensland. The former head of Hazelwood says that solar and battery storage is already cheaper than baseload gas.
But don’t expect to read much about those exciting developments in much of the mainstream media. They just don’t seem interested.
How The Australian distorted S.A. renewables advice http://reneweconomy.com.au/how-the-australian-distorted-s-a-renewables-advice-19781/ By Giles Parkinson on 22 March 2017 Readers of Rupert Murdoch’s The Australian newspaper would have been fascinated to learn this week that the South Australian government had apparently ignored advice in 2009 to limit the amount of wind energy in their state’s grid to 20 per cent. South Australia has, of course, gone well beyond that, with wind energy now meeting more than 40 per cent of the state’s electricity demand, and rooftop solar another 5-6 per cent. The combined total is likely to exceed 50 per cent by the end of the year, well ahead of its 2025 target.
But this target is under attack from the fossil fuel industry and their proxies in the Murdoch media – as Media Watch documented so well on Monday – and by some in the ABC itself.
On Sunday, the ABC’s political editor Chris Uhlmann wrote that it was “well documented” that any more than 20 per cent wind energy created problems for the grid.
We debunked that piece of nonsense with this story – The ABC’s Uhlmann gets in wrong on renewables. Again – on Monday, which noted that the CSIRO regarded anything up to 30 per cent penetration of wind and solar as “trivial.”
Regional home and business owners driving Australia’s solar energy boom ABC, PM By Angela Lavoipierre 22 Mar 17 When you think of solar, you probably think of vast fields of black panels at large-scale solar farms, producing enormous quantities of power.
- The highest uptake of rooftop solar is in the regional and urban fringe areas
- Moree, NSW is a perfect example, with 19 per cent of homes sporting rooftop panels
- The cost of installing solar systems has decreased by around 80 per cent in the last decade
But Australia’s real solar engine, at least for the time being, is a much more humble sight. It is small collections of solar panels on ordinary homes and businesses around the country.
At 2.8 per cent, rooftop solar contributes far more to Australia’s total energy mix than largescale solar, which currently comes in at around a quarter of a per cent.
Claire O’Rourke is the national director of Solar Citizens, a group which lobbies for private solar owners.
“It’s not the inner-city latte-sippers who are going solar,” she said.
“It’s definitely the highest uptake around those urban fringe areas and in regional areas as well where you’ll see in some areas 30-40 per cent of homes with solar on rooftops.”
There are nearly 1.6 million Australian homes with solar panels on their rooftops. To put it in perspective, 1.4 million of those homes took up solar installations in the last decade.
“These are kind of remarkable figures for an industry that was seen as more of a cottage industry 15 or 20 years ago where it was kind of off-grid hippies that were taking it up,” Ms O’Rourke said.
“But it’s very much a mainstream option for people to manage their energy use and also to take control of their rising power bills.”
According to the Grattan Institute, consumers in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide are paying nearly twice as much for electricity as they were a decade ago. Ms O’Rourke said that was part of the reason rooftop solar had been booming. “Prices have gone up, bills have gone up, and the other contributing factor is that the costs of solar has rapidly decreased,” she said. “So if you look at a bit of technical analysis, it’s dropped from $9-a-watt for out-of-pocket expenses on installing a solar system, to $1.60.”So it’s like an 80 per cent decrease in out-of-pocket installation costs in only a decade.”
Moree embraces solar….. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-23/regional-australia-drives-solar-boom/8377670
“……….Rooftop solar panels do not necessarily power the buildings they are attached to.Most of the time, the power generated by those panels is sold straight back to the energy market.
Generous state-based schemes designed to tempt people into the market paid handsomely for that energy in the past, but those deals all but disappeared.
At another time in Australian history, that change might have had a chilling effect on solar uptake, but soaring energy prices have made sure that is not the case. To those who own their own homes, with mounting power bills, solar still looks pretty tempting, even if it is just for your own personal use. The rapid pace of growth in rooftop solar has slowed.
But Hugh Saddler, an energy analyst based at the Australian National University, said Australia could expect to see an ongoing boom in the uptake of small-scale solar for businesses.
“The steady or in more case rapid increase in the commercial sector is being driven to a significant degree by the steadily falling cost of installing a solar system,” Dr Saddler said.
There are currently industry-based schemes, paid for by consumers, to encourage businesses to go solar.
Dr Saddler predicts those schemes, once they end, could prove to be a hiccup in the growth of Australia’s solar industry, but little more. “I suppose one challenge will be whether it will still be an attractive investment when the small renewable energy scheme comes to an end and I’m sure that it will be because the prices are coming down all the time,” he said.
If 2.8 per cent does not sound like much, Dr Saddler makes the case that rooftop solar was the unsung hero in recent SA black outs. “If it hadn’t been for the rooftop solar making a very large contribution at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon … then that peak would have been about 7 per cent higher than the peak demand on the grid two hours later,” he said.
“And that would have roughly doubled the number of consumers that had to be cut off for load shedding.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-23/regional-australia-drives-solar-boom/8377670
Proponents predict big savings from 4000-panel solar farm http://www.themercury.com.au/news/tasmania/proponents-predict-big-savings-from-4000panel-solar-farm/news-story/d6d5333b757f4cc6f33fecad23dcdc20 NICK CLARK, Mercury March 23, 2017 A $2 million solar farm, Tasmania’s largest, will inject power into the state’s grid during summer and save thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gases.
Proponent Nest Energy will place 4000 solar panels on the sawtooth roof of a former wool store in the Launceston suburb of Kings Meadows. Partner Mark Barnett said 15 people would be employed during construction with the project anticipated to be running by August. He said the privately funded project would produce about 1GWh of electricity a year – enough to fully power 200 homes.
It would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20,000 tonnes over the 35-year project life.
Mr Barnett said in winter the panels would produce enough for several businesses while in summer there would be 30 per cent excess electricity, which would be injected into the grid with the company receiving a feed-in tariff. “The building tenants will receive their power at a significant discount while the building owner will realise an improved building value so it’s a fabulous win/win” he said.
Mr Barnett said the project had been two years in the planning. He said a drop in the price of renewable components coinciding with a trend of rising power prices, meant there was plenty of opportunity for further projects, especially in agriculture. Treasurer Peter Gutwein said the project demonstrated an increased level of confidence in the northern Tasmanian economy.
Two Australian states embrace grid-scale storage for power reliability, http://www.utilitydive.com/news/two-australian-states-embrace-grid-scale-storage-for-power-reliability/438073/ Peter Maloney@TopFloorPower, 15 Mar, 17 Dive Brief:
- Two Australian states are ramping up energy storage to address rising electricity costs and rolling blackouts, according to media reports.
- In South Australia, the government says it will hold a competitive solicitation for a 100 MW battery storage installation and construct a 250 MW gas plant, according to Energy Storage News reports.
- The state of Victoria is also investing $20 million in an effort to boost energy storage to 100 MW by the end of next year, ABC News reports.
South Australia has been suffering from rolling blackouts brought about by high heat and a lack of baseload power. The situation has attracted developers like ZEN Energy and Tesla, who say that battery storage could go a long way toward integrating renewables into the state’s grid and solving grid instability problems.
South Australia officials also announced plans for a 250 MW gas-fired generator to act as backup for intermittent renewables.
Officials said the gas plant would be turned on only when power shortfalls are forecasted, according to ABC. A bill is reportedly in the works to give the state energy minister more control over power dispatch, after criticisms of the Australian grid operator stemming from the power outages.
Victoria, meanwhile, is looking at a range of energy storage solutions, including batteries, pumped hydro storage and solar thermal technology. The $20 million investment will come on top of a separate $5 million solicitation for a 20 MW energy storage system issued last month.
A fair price for rooftop solar? Try 10-18c/kWh REnedweconomy, By Jack Gilding on 20 March 2017
This is the first of a series of articles produced by the fair value for distributed generation project. In this article we explain the background to the project and the basis for our calculation that local rooftop solar is currently worth in the range of 10-18c/kWh when all the network, environmental and health benefits are taken into account. Continue reading
Whereas high energy prices often drive Indigenous people off their traditional lands, lower-cost renewables can help communities to thrive no matter how remote.
“We can build a power station where the community exists,” .. “so people are able to successfully live in the environment the way they want to live and have access to power which enables them to better determine their economic future.”
How an Indigenous renewable energy alliance aims to cut power costs and disadvantage
First Nations lobby group will support remote communities looking to make transition – and tackle climate change, Guardian, Dyani Lewis, 17 Mar 17
Like so many of the Indigenous communities dotted across the Australian continent, the remote communities in north-west New South Wales are struggling. “These are not happy places,” says the Euahlayi elder Ghillar Michael Anderson.
Many of the 300 or so residents of Anderson’s hometown of Goodooga rely on welfare, he says. Exorbitant electricity bills – up to $3,000 a quarter for some households – further exacerbate the poverty. “We’re always at the end of the power line, so the service that is there is quite extraordinary in terms of cost.”
Many other communities rely on expensive, emissions-intensive diesel-powered generators to meet their electricity demands. “It’s a real problem and we need to make sure that we fix this,” Anderson says.
To that end, Anderson and 24 other Indigenous leaders have formed the First Nations Renewable Energy Alliance, which aims to tackle high power costs and entrenched disadvantage – along with climate change – by pushing for renewable energy in Indigenous communities. Continue reading
Households abandoning the grid have ‘lost faith’ , The Age, Brian Robins, 17 Mar 17 The federal government has been warned that the rise in spending on solar energy systems is clear evidence households have “lost faith” in their energy suppliers, as they move to get greater control over the cost of their electricity bill.
In its submission to the Finkel Review which is being conducted into the future security of the electricity market, Energy Consumers Australia said its research has highlighted the shift that is now emerging.
“While assumptions are often made that generous feed-in-tariffs and solar PV’s clean attributes have been the primary motivators for their uptake, our research indicates that the primary reasons consumers are investing in this technology is to manage consumption and gain control of costs. The desire for independence from the grid is a particularly strong driver for early interest in battery storage,” it says.
“We see this as a clear indication that consumers have lost faith in the traditional market’s capacity to deliver value for money, and are taking matters into their own hands.”
Energy Consumers Australia undertakes regular detailed surveys of household attitudes to their energy supplies and while most households are not actively engaged in the retail market for electricity, due to a variety of factors, as many as 1.5 million households have engaged by making a significant investment in solar rooftop photo voltaic systems, it said.
And even as the historically generous subsidies supporting the installation of these systems is being wound down, its research has found that a third of households are considering installing these systems over the next five years, with as many as 27 per cent considering installing battery storage systems. But these options are more limited for households which rent or live in accommodation which is unsuitable for the installation of these systems.
“This risks the costs of building and maintaining the [national electricity market] being increasingly recovered from a subset of consumers who are on lower incomes, haven’t been able to break into the housing market, or small businesses in commercial premises subject to investment decisions by owners,” it noted in its submission to the review.
Similarly, its community consultations have found more consumers want to be able to trade or share electricity at the local level……. http://www.theage.com.au/business/energy/households-abandoning-the-grid-have-lost-faith-20170316-gv07mz.html
sometimes the leader of the nation can join the policy discussion only by disguising his good ideas in a drizabone and bush hat, lest they be recognised for what they are by his own colleagues.
Huge potential of pumped hydro at Snowy Mountains could pave the way for a 100% renewable energy grid, but don’t tell the prime minister’s colleagues “……This week the prime minister announced some details of a big idea he has been hinting at all year – the massive potential of pumped hydro to help solve Australia’s energy crisis.
But like a parent hiding the nutritious goodness of veggies under the familiar stodge of gravy and mash, he covered the truly exciting potential of his plan under the reassuring nostalgia of a revived “nation-building” Snowy Mountains scheme, complete with hard hat and hi-vis vest.
It was duly reported as a “blast from the past” and a “trip down memory lane” with much reassuring emphasis on the jobs that could be created and file footage of hard-working post-war immigrants.
But – if it works – this revived Snowy Mountains scheme could actually pave the way for a reliable 100% renewable energy grid. It could end all that talk about how we need super-duper extremely “clean” coal for “baseload” power. Once you can store and dispatch power at this scale, the whole idea of “baseload” has been overtaken. And this latest “push” for nuclear energy will be dead before the mining industry has a chance to wind up another million-dollar advertising campaign. If the feasibility studies are positive, it won’t be a “blast from the past” at all, it will be a big leap into the future. Continue reading
Ian Chappell stands by Adani mine letter despite being called ‘elitist’ by Coalition MPAdani ‘categorically’ rejects letter signed by 91 prominent Australians as protesters confront Queensland premier during tour of Adani’s Indian HQ, Guardian, Joshua Robertson, 17 Mar 17 “……A new ReachTel poll has found 73% of Australians agree that “the best thing for Australia would be for Adani to invest in large-scale solar power stations, rather than a new coalmine”.
The poll, commissioned by the Australian Marine Conservation Society, surveyed 2,134 Australian residents on Tuesday.
They were also asked whether the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, and regional mayors currently on a trade mission to India should be “seeking investment in clean energy solutions like new solar power stations or in coalmines”.
It found 72.1% preferred solar while 14.6% preferred coal.
A copy of the open letter shows 91 signatories, including former Australian environment minister Peter Garrett, Perth-based UK-born comedian and author Ben Elton and investment banker Mark Burrows.
It “respectfully” called on Adani’s billionaire chairman, Gautam Adani, to drop the mine plan for three reasons. It would drive global warming that threatened the Great Barrier Reef nearby, it loomed as a “public health disaster” according to the medical journal Lancet; and it “does not have wide public support in Australia”, the letter said.
ACF is appealing a federal court finding against its challenge to commonwealth approval of the Adani mine on the grounds it did not account for climate change impacts on the Great Barrier Reef through carbon emissions.
The court ruled the federal environment minister was entitled to find that if Adani did not go ahead, emissions would come from coal sourced elsewhere. The ACF argues this is “the drug dealer’s defence”.https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/mar/17/ian-chappell-stands-by-adani-mine-letter-despite-being-called-elitist-by-coalition-mp
The question is whether the Coalition really is prepared to do something about bringing electricity prices down, or just wants to keep talking rubbish about how renewables will drive them up.
Swing to renewables will be unstoppable, THE AUSTRALIAN, ALAN KOHLER 18 Mar 17 Out of the thick haze of energy politics, something clearly significant emerged this week.
The expansion of Snowy Hydro is a very surprising, genuine game-changer: it shifts the power balance in Australian policy decisively towards renewables. If the project happens, a big if, the last fossil fuel electricity generator in this country has already been built.
It was possible because Snowy Hydro is the acceptable face of renewable energy, allowing, a heroic, soaring prime ministerial doorstop: “These are big dreams in these mountains, real courage, a belief in the future, a confidence in Australia.”
But the important point is that the Coalition’s electricity solution no longer seems to involve “clean coal” or gas.
There’s still a long way to go — after all, Malcolm Turnbull announced only a feasibility study, and then appeared to confirm that it was a stunt by using the press release to one-up South Australia’s battery plan: “My energy storage is bigger than yours.”
So the whole thing could turn into a pointless pissing contest between hydro and solar/wind/batteries. In fact, let’s face it — it probably will.
But even if that happens, and even if energy policy descends once more into political farce, at least the thermal power oligopoly would be out of the game, no longer exerting its hold over policy with the aim of maintaining margins.
And that is the significance of this Snowy Hydro expansion: it marks the end of thermal power. From here the swing to renewables will be fast, unstoppable and eventually complete….. Continue reading
Turnbull’s desperation … is driven by the knowledge that his government will carry the can if the spiralling problems are not addressed. He also knows his options on electricity are limited by the powerful reactionary rump within his government.
Among other things, it [the Snowy pumped hydro scheme] would make the government’s flirtation with funding a new “clean” coal plant – still being spruiked this week by Resources Minister Matt Canavan – much harder to justify……
plenty of questions remain unanswered. It is not clear how long the Snowy plan will take to get up – Turnbull says within four years, but the Australian Renewable Energy Agency has said this sort of project could take up to seven. It is not clear what it would cost, or who will pay for it. A feasibility study is yet to be completed. Its impact on the environment has not yet been assessed. We don’t know if its viability in a projected future climate with reduced river flows has been considered.
Is Malcolm Turnbull’s Snowy Hydro 2.0 a breakthrough, a distraction or both?, The Age, 18 Mar Adam Morton “…. Depending on who you listen to, Malcolm Turnbull’s proposed $2 billion expansion of the Snowy Hydro Scheme is a bold piece of nation-building by a Prime Minister who had found his mojo, or a cynically timed thought-bubble that is years away at best……
“I am a nation-building Prime Minister and this is a nation-building project,” he said …… Continue reading
‘Virtual power plant’ is here, says AGL Energy’s Andy Vesey, AFR, 17 Mar 17 Home storage batteries will be cheap enough within five years to make the “virtual power plant” achievable, revolutionising energy and making investment in traditional plant harder to justify, AGL Energy chief executive Andy Vesey says.
Mr Vesey said that batteries would be about the same $3500 price that AGL is charging 1000 Adelaide householders for its virtual power plant trial, a fraction of the $16,000 full price of the Sunverge batteries used in the trial. They could pay themselves off in about five years.
“It’s coming,” he told an American Chamber of Commerce lunch. He said grid scale batteries proposed by Tesla and others already offer value in the right circumstances.
Virtual power plants – “behind the meter” energy resources such as batteries, solar panels, software and smart thermometers managing power-hungry appliances – are one way to ease pressure on the grid and help prevent blackouts such as those plaguing South Australia. ….
Mr Vesey said on Friday that adding storage to solar homes was like adding refrigeration to agriculture, changing the way consumers interact with the power grid and the investment equation for energy companies….
He said when you put 1000 rooftop solar households with batteries together and control them in the cloud “you fundamentally have a 5 megawatt peaking plant on the edge of the grid. It changes everything”. …… http://www.afr.com/news/economy/virtual-power-plant-is-here-says-agl-energys-andy-vesey-20170316-gv0564