Australian news, and some related international items

Victoria to get record-breaking wind farm

WIND-FARMRecord-breaking, brolga-friendly, $650m wind farm gets government green light, The Age, July 19 2016 Benjamin Preiss    Victoria’s most productive wind farm generating enough power for 140,000 households will be built in the south-west after the state government approved the plans.

The $650 million wind farm, to be built near Dundonnell, will have 96 turbines.  Once completed, it will produce enough power to supply the combined populations of Ballarat and Warrnambool.

The project will create an estimated 300 jobs during construction, with 16 positions once it is built…….The wind farm’s layout was designed to accommodate brolga breeding and flocking habits, according to the government………

July 20, 2016 Posted by | Victoria, wind | Leave a comment

83-Percent Of south Australia’s Electricity From Wind last weekend

Wind turbines in Azerbaijan. South Australia Just Produced 83-Percent Of Its Electricity From Wind Energy HTTP://WWW.HEXAPOLIS.COM/2016/07/16/ BYSUKANYA MUKHERJEE JULY 16, 2016

Thanks to a particularly windy weekend, South Australia recently saw nearly 83-percent of its total electricity coming solely from eco-friendly wind energy. Although the harsh weather conditions led to power outages in some of the places, its advantages far outweigh the temporary inconvenience. According to officials, wind turbines installed in the area captured much of the ambient energy, which was used to meet more than two-thirds of the region’s total electricity demands last Monday.

When it comes to renewable power, South Australia is one of the front runners, boasting both solar and wind energy. Investments of up $6 billion have resulted in the installation of as many as 638 wind turbines in the area. According to Alicia Webb of Australia-based Clean Energy Council, an organization dedicated to improving renewables and conversion efficiency, the industry has also generated “hundreds” of jobs. Given the current trend, the region will soon see wind and solar power overtaking conventional fossil fuels. Webb said:

Southern Australia…is in the midst of a remarkable transformation, with more than 40 percent of its power needs coming from renewable energy last year. It is clear that modern economies can run on increasingly higher levels of renewable energy, and it is clear from South Australia’s example that other mainland states can go much further with no loss of reliability.

With oil and volatile gas prices skyrocketing in recent years, wind turbines in South Australia actually help produce electricity at lower costs, especially during windy weather. As pointed out by Webb, the area’s total “installed solar capacity” will likely reach five gigawatts in the coming months. These steps are part of the government’s efforts to meet the targets declared in the Paris agreement. In addition to renewables, researchers in South Australia are coming up with new, innovative technologies that could in turn help reduce environmental pollution. Via: CleanTechnica

July 18, 2016 Posted by | South Australia, wind | Leave a comment

South Australian Liberals keen to obstruct wind energy projects?

Liberal-policy-1Libs pushing for wind farm changes
ALL new wind farm projects would have to undergo an assessment to see how they would affect the electricity market before being approved, if changes proposed by the Opposition were adopted…. (subscribers only )

July 18, 2016 Posted by | politics, South Australia, wind | Leave a comment

Queensland wind farm to ‘drought proof’ farm incomes and provide jobs

Wind park in Scotland. Author: Ian Dick. License: Creative Commons, Attribution 2.0 Generic.Queensland’s $500m Coopers Gap wind farm could be operational by 2020  By Ellie Sibson An energy company planning to build Queensland’s largest wind farm is hoping to have the project operational by 2020.

AGL Energy’s proposed $500 million Coopers Gap wind farm would be constructed at Cooranga North, about 200 kilometres north-west of Brisbane in the state’s South Burnett region. It has a proposed capacity of 350 megawatts and could power 190,000 homes each year.

Under the plans, up to 115 turbines would be built across 11 properties.

Last month, the wind farm was declared a coordinated project and community consultation on the draft terms of reference for an environmental impact statement is currently underway. Dozens of residents attended a recent public meeting at the nearby township of Bell to raise concerns and ask questions about the project.

Project manager Neil Cooke said most of the feedback had been positive. “Some of the community are concerned about the noise being too high and concerned about sleep,” he said. “We’re in the process of organising a second trip down to our wind farms in Victoria so people can actually get to see wind farms close up.”

Wind farm would ‘drought-proof property’  If the wind farm is approved, Cyril Stewart would have three turbines built on his cattle property. During times of drought, Mr Stewart has had to leave his land in search of a job. “It would be the greatest thing since sliced bread because it is drought-proofing the property,” he said. “This is something that rain, hail or shine, there’s an income.”

About 350 workers are needed for construction with ongoing employment for 20 people. South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell said it would be a big jobs boost for the region. “Economic development is something our region really needs,” he said. “These sorts of things don’t come about often … employment driven by the economic outcomes is something that as a region we can’t ignore.” The environmental impact process is expected to take at least six months.

July 6, 2016 Posted by | Queensland, wind | Leave a comment

Victorian government backing 2 new wind farms


The new wind farms will produce enough energy to power 80,000 homes. They will be located at Kiata near Horsham and Mount Gellibrand near Colac.  The Kiata wind farm will have up to 13 turbines, while Mount Gellibrand will host up to 44. Both projects are expected to be operating by 2018.

The government says it is using its purchasing power to support these wind farms through so-called renewable energy certificates. The state government has committed to purchasing some renewable energy certificates from these two wind farms, giving them an additional revenue stream. Certificates are allocated to wind farms as part of the national renewable energy target. Producers of renewable energy can also sell the certificates to energy retailers.

Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the government was rebuilding much-needed confidence in the renewable energy industry. “We can build a strong, sustainable, renewable energy industry that powers our broader economy, creates well-paid jobs and reduces our environmental impact,” she said.

Last month the government committed to a renewable energy generation target of 25 per cent by 2020 and 40 per cent by 2025.  Planning Minister Richard Wynne is also considering six applications to amend existing wind farm permits so they can increase their turbine size.

July 6, 2016 Posted by | Victoria, wind | Leave a comment

Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews’ ambitious plan for boosting wind energy

Wind farm boom looms as Premier Daniel Andrews looks to boost clean power, The Age, , 16 June 16, Senior Writer Victoria would have 40 per cent clean electricity in less than a decade – nearly tripling the current level – under an ambitious plan announced by the Andrews government.

Andrews, Daniel

The government has set targets to ramp up wind power and large-scale solar power, paid for through an increase in household and business electricity bills and spending from the budget.

With private spending on clean electricity largely stalled due to a lack of confidence in federal government support for a national renewable energy target, the Andrews government believes its policy will make Victoria the centre of a revitalised industry. It estimates that, at the peak of construction in the middle of the next decade, there will be about 4000 workers helping to build the target’s 5400 megawatts capacity of clean energy.

To put that in perspective, there are 18 wind farms with planning approval in the state, but not built.

The government says its target will improve the viability of the industry enough to build all of them – and nearly as many again – within nine years.

On top of this, one-fifth of the new generation capacity built would be solar plants in the state’s north.

In a statement, Premier Daniel Andrews said meeting the targets – 25 per cent by 2020 and 40 per cent by 2025, up from 14 per cent today – would bring about $2.5 billion of clean energy investment into the state.

“The world is shifting to renewable energy. It creates jobs, drives growth and protects our environment, and Victorians want to be at the forefront,” he said……

June 17, 2016 Posted by | Victoria, wind | Leave a comment

Record wind energy output last month kept electricity prices down

wind-nuclear-Wind energy’s biggest month, and how it keeps prices down REneweconomy,  EBy Giles Parkinson on 8 June 2016 Wind energy in Australia has enjoyed its biggest every month in May, producing nearly a quarter more electricity than its previous record month, and overtaking hydro to provide 8.5 per cent of electricity demand in the country’s main grid.

The record output came, coincidentally, in the same month that the last coal fired power station in South Australia was closed (May 9). And a new analysis from energy consultants Pitt & Sherry points to how wind generation is keeping a lid on wholesale electricity prices.

The Pitt & Sherry analysis notes that four states recorded record monthly totals in May – South Australia (where wind met 49 per cent of demand), Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania. (There is only one very small wind farm in Queensland and Western Australia operates on a separate grid).

The 3.9GW of wind generation in the month of May operated at a capacity factor of 49 per cent, according to Pitt & Sherry, meaning that it produced 22 per cent more than it did in its previous record month (July, 2015). (See this story for more details, and how most wind farms in NSW operated at a higher capacity factor than some of the biggest coal plants).

South Australia has the biggest share of wind farms, with 1.5GW, and this accounted for 49 per cent of its electricity demend in the month. On some occasions, wind energy provided more than 100 per cent of electricity demand in the state.…….

June 10, 2016 Posted by | South Australia, wind | Leave a comment

Hi-tech renewable energy jobs reviving south-west Victoria’s economy

solar,-wind-aghastHigh-tech, clean energy jobs key to future of Geelong, south-west Victoria, ABC News, 5 June 16 By Cameron Best Steve Garner understands how important his wind farm manufacturing business is for the town of Portland in south-west Victoria.

As the state’s traditional manufacturing base continues to decline, jobseekers and the wider economy are looking for the jobs of the future.

Six months ago, Mr Garner’s Keppel Prince Engineering facility lay idle under the Federal Government’s freeze on new wind energy investment and former prime minister Tony Abbott’s desire to reduce the growth rate of what he labelled as “visually awful” wind farms.

Now, under a new Clean Energy Finance Corporation mandate, the production line at Keppel Prince is back up and running with about 300 workers making towers for a project near Ararat.

It has come just in time for Portland, which is facing the possibility of life without its major employer……

“the stronger we can grow something like this [facility], that actually does create a lot of jobs, the better off we’re going to be.

“And if we get government support to do that, we’ve then got a sustainable business for a long period of time.”…

New-wave tech replacing manufacturing of old

High-tech industries are springing up to utilise some of the skilled workers coming out of the automotive industry but in order to remain globally competitive, this new wave of advanced manufacturers cannot afford to be as labour-intensive as the companies of old…….,-clean-energy-jobs-the-key-to-geelong-future/7476816

June 5, 2016 Posted by | business, Victoria, wind | Leave a comment

Queensland wind farm creating jobs, powering a city

green-collarWind farm at Mount Emerald, near Cairns, set to create 150 jobs May 27, 2016  A WIND farm to be built in far north Queensland will generate enough renewable energy to power a regional city. Ergon Energy and proponents Ratch Australia and Port Bajool on Friday signed a power purchase agreement to build the 170 megawatt Mount Emerald Wind Farm, near Cairns.

About $400 million in total expenditure is projected during the project’s two-year construction phase and 25-year operational period.

The project is also expected to boost the region’s economy by $900 million through direct and indirect flow-on impacts.

Energy Minister Mark Bailey said the project would mean the state’s wind energy production, which sat at 12 megawatts, would be increased by 15 times.

 “It will not only create 150 jobs in far north Queensland … it will also generate enough power to power a city the size of Mackay,” Mr Bailey said.

May 28, 2016 Posted by | Queensland, wind | Leave a comment

South Australia runs over 50% on renewable energy

Map-South-Australia-windSouth Australia runs mainly on renewable energy following coal map solar south-australiaplant closure, The Independent,  Gabriel Samuels 12 May 16  Majority of energy comes from solar and wind but the transition has been fraught with difficulties  South Australia now gets the bulk of its electricity from wind and solar power, following the closure of its last coal-fired power station.

The state, which includes the city of Adelaide,  exclusively has gas generators, solar panels and wind turbines serving a population of 1.7 million.

More than 50% of the region’s electricity stems from wind and solar with the remainder coming from energy efficient combined cycle gas plants.

The final coal station still in operation in Port Augusta closed down on May 9 after operating for 31 years. It generated 520 megawatts of power from coal but failed to compete with the falling price of clean renewable energy. Its closure produced a brief faltering in wholesale energy prices across the state.

The RenewablesSA transition initiative was established by the state govenment in late 2009 with a promise of $10 billion invested in low carbon generation by 2025…….

The state plans to become Australia’s wind and solar capital and is working towards complete reliance on natural sources

The state’s leading electricity provider, SA Power Networks, yesterday announced it will undertake Australia’s largest trial of storage batteries in solar homes in a bid to defer a $3 million network upgrade.

Meanwhile, last week Portugal ran entirely on renewable energy for four consecutive days between Saturday and Wednesday, in a bid to become completely reliant on natural resources.

The Independent has contacted RenewablesSA for comment.

May 21, 2016 Posted by | solar, South Australia, wind | Leave a comment

Australia wasting over $2.5 million investigating “wind turbine syndrome’ ?

wind-farm-evil-1True cost to taxpayers of investigating wind farm complaints tops $2.5 million, The Age April 2, 2016 – Environment and immigration correspondent  The price of the part-time wind farm commissioner created by the former Abbott government is three times more than first thought, costing taxpayers more than $2 million to monitor and investigate complaints against the wind industry.

It has also emerged that the Independent Scientific Committee on Wind Turbines, which advises the government on potential health and environmental effects of the industry, has held just two short teleconferences in five months and provided no advice, despite costing up to $174,000 a year.

The hefty bill has fuelled criticism over the commissioner and committee, which Environment Minister Greg Hunt agreed to establish as part of crossbench negotiations to pass the government’s revised Renewable Energy Target. Senators John Madigan and David Leyonhjelm were the key proponents of the policy.

Critics said the measures were a bid to thwart the roll-out of clean energy under Mr Abbott, who had called wind farms “visually awful”. Former treasurer Joe Hockey also decried them as “utterly offensive”.

As Fairfax Media reported last year, the part-time National Wind Farm Commissioner Andrew Dyer will be paid $205,000 annually over three years to monitor the wind industry and respond to community complaints about turbine noise and health effects.

However this sum is just a small proportion of the cost of establishing the role.

Official figures provided to a Senate committee show the wind farm commissioner’s office is expected to cost $2.03 million over four years, including $680,000 in 2017-18.

This cost includes travel, IT, office accommodation and four staff as well as Mr Dyer’s part-time salary, which is more than an average full-time federal backbencher……

The figures also show the independent scientific committee is expected to cost $507,000 over four years, comprising administered and departmental expenses.

Late in March the Department of the Environment told Fairfax Media the committee had held “two short meetings” in December and February and “has not provided any advice to government at this stage”.

The meetings were held by teleconference or videoconference, and the committee is expected to meet about every two months.

Announcing the committee last October, Mr Hunt said it would “build on the work of the National Health and Medical Research Council”.

Reviews by a number of state and federal government health bodies including the NHMRC have so far found no clear evidence of a link between wind farms and medical conditions. The Australian Medical Association last year released a statement saying the available evidence did not support the concept that wind farm noise harmed humans.

Labor’s environment spokesman Mark Butler said it did not support the commissioner’s appointment and “it is ridiculous that the Turnbull Liberal government will waste money on this commissioner, but is happy to rip money out of the renewable energy sector”.

April 1, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wind | Leave a comment

Turnbull cuts climate research money – spends it on ‘wind farm health effects’

wind-farm-evil-1‘Quite disgraceful’: NHMRC doles out $3.3m to study windfarm effects on health, The Age, March 23, 2016  Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald  Australia’s top medical research body has given two researchers $3.3 million to study the effects of wind farms on human health despite its own year-long study finding no “consistent evidence” that a problem exists.

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) awarded Guy Marks, a professor at the University of NSW $1.94m, to study the health impacts of infrasound – sound waves typically inaudible to humans – generated by wind turbines.

Peter Catcheside, an associate professor at Flinders University, secured $1.36m to investigate whether wind farms disturb sleep compared with traffic noise.

The outcomes of these studies, promoted by a so-called targeted call for research, will assist in developing policy and public health recommendations regarding wind turbine development and operations, the council said.

The research call was criticised last year, with even NSW and Victorian health officials calling for the NHMRC “to make it clear that the total available evidence (parallel and direct) suggest[s] little health risk,” according to emails from these health officials seen by Fairfax Media.

Senior members of the Abbott government, including then Prime Minister Tony Abbott, made public their opposition to wind farms. Then Treasurer Joe Hockey also dubbed wind turbines as “utterly offensive” and “a blight on the landscape”.

Simon Chapman, an emeritus professor of public health at the University of Sydney, said there had been at least 25 reviews internationally – including by the NHMRC – that showed “very little evidence of direct effects” from wind farms.

Effects that did exist could be put down to psycho-social factors, such as pre-existing antipathy to wind farms, resentment by locals who had received no benefit from turbines in their region, and anxiety of perceived health impacts, Professor Chapman said.

“It’s really quite disgraceful – it’s money literally poured down the drain,” he said. “There is no health or medical agency in the world that would give any rational priority to wind farms and health. “Potentially hundreds of researchers who had just missed on funding research would be angry as the money is being spent on wind farm research.”

Fairfax Media has sought additional comment from the NHMRC.

Senator Kim Carr, shadow science minister, said the funding came at a time when the Turnbull government was taking the axe to hundreds of scientists – including climate researchers – at the CSIRO.”The Liberals cannot plead innocence in cutting climate and manufacturing research in the CSIRO…while handing out money for contentious research into things like the supposed health effects of wind farms,” he said.
“The Abbott-Turnbull Government is hell-bent on politicising Australian research,” he said.

March 26, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, wind | Leave a comment

Wind farm commissioner – the cons and pros of the position

wind-farm-evil-1Wind farm commissioner insists he’s good value for taxpayers at $200,000 a year, SMH March 25, 2016  Environment editor, The Age  Australia’s wind farm commissioner has insisted taxpayers are getting good value for money out of his $200,000 a year salary.

In an interview with Fairfax Media, Andrew Dyer, who was appointed to the wind energy watchdog post in October, said he believed there were genuine issues around wind farms to be solved and he was one of a handful of people with the skills to do it.

The national wind farm commissioner has been a highly contested position since it was first created by then Prime Minister Tony Abbott last year.

Critics say the position – established via a deal with anti-wind crossbench Senators – was another attempt to stymie the roll-out of clean energy under then Prime Minister Tony Abbott. There has also been a heavy focus from critics on Mr Dyer’s $205,000 a year remuneration and the job’s classification as part-time.

Mr Dyer said he could not claim to be full-time while holding other positions, including volunteer board spots, chairing a private company and involvement with Monash University’s sustainability unit, but added: “I can assure you it is a very big load.”……….

The most controversial element of the wind farm debate is claims infrasound (inaudible noise) from wind farms can make people sick. A long list of symptoms have been ascribed to so called “wind turbine syndrome”, including sleeplessness, headaches, nausea, memory loss and tinnitus.

But numerous health and government assessments – including by the National Health and Medical Research Council – have repeatedly found no link between wind farm infrasound and health problems.

Mr Dyer said this had also been his advice, though no health complaint, whatever the reason, should be ignored.

More research into the issue should be done, he said. This week $3.3 million in government research grants to study the health effects of wind farms were announced……..

Mr Dyer has worked in the energy industry for many years and in many roles. During that time he has been a notable champion of solar thermal technology.

He pointed to previous comment pieces he had written stressing a “balance of technologies” in the energy supply. He told Fairfax Media wind energy “will be a major part of that balance into the future.”

What impact might he have on the industry then?

Mr Dyer conceded he had no legal authority to order changes to projects, but he could personally work with complainants and companies to try reach workable solutions to disputes.

“Industry has been very supportive of my role and appointment because they know if complaints aren’t dealt with properly then it will continue to have a negative impact on them and raise the potential for further regulation,” Mr Dyer said.

March 25, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wind | Leave a comment

Big financial benefits in locating solar and wind power together

text-relevant The study’s key findings:
 – Cost savings: Major savings can be obtained in the grid connection equipment and installation, operation and maintenance and development costs (including land costs, development approvals and studies). These savings are estimated at 3% to 13% for CAPEX and 3 to 16 percent for OPEX.
 – Prospective regions: The greatest brownfield co-location opportunities are currently in Western Australia and South Australia, where there is good solar resource, a complementary generation profile and higher wholesale market prices. The best greenfield opportunities for wind-solar co-location are also found in South Australia and Western Australia, as well as parts (non-cyclonic) of Queensland and small parts of New South Wales.
 – Importance of network access; Many of the greenfield sites are not close to the network, or are adjacent to weak parts of the network. While this creates a challenge for developers, there may be an opportunity for NSPs and policy makers to intervene by opening up regions of high natural wind and solar resource through new network assets.

Co-location potential: The technical capacity of existing wind farms to accommodate co-located solar farms is estimated at over 1 GW. Growth in renewables driven by the Renewable Energy Target is expected to open up technical capacity for an additional 1.5 GW of solar PV to be co-located at new wind farms built by 2020. However, the relative financial competitiveness of these opportunities (combined with relevant policy) may limit the uptake of the full technical potential of co-location.

Firming effect: Given the intermittent nature of renewable technologies, pairing resources in regions dominated by one particularly technology will likely have a “firming” effect. This reduction in the overall facility’s degree of intermittency results in an improved capacity factor at the connection point and can mitigate associated network constraints in regions dominated by a single generation type.


ARENA: Solar and wind co-location can deliver significant cost savings–solar-and-wind-co-location-can-deliver-significant-cost-savings-_100023809/#axzz43rWPStli 21. MARCH 2016 SOPHIE VORRATH

A total of at least 1GW of large-scale solar could be added to existing Australian wind farms, boosting renewable energy development, generation, and and smoothing its delivery to the grid, according to a new report from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. Based on data from 10 existing wind farms around Australia, the report – released on Monday and previewed last Thursday at the Wind Wind Industry Forum in Melbourne – found that major savings could be achieved for developers using co-location, particularly in the grid connection infrastructure. Continue reading

March 25, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, energy, solar, wind | Leave a comment

Omigawd! Australia’s peak medical body is funding research into ‘wind turbine sickness’

wind-farm-evil-1Medical body pledges $3.3m for research into ‘wind turbine sickness’ ABC News By environment reporter Sara Phillips 22 Mar 16 Australia’s leading medical funding body, the National Heath and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), has awarded $3.3 million to two researchers to look into whether proximity to wind turbines causes illness.

Key points:

  • One researcher to investigate wind turbine noise and sleep, mood and cardiovascular health
  • Another to look into impacts of wind turbine noise on sleep
  • Total of the two grants is $3.3m – much higher than average
  • Some have questioned why the turbine research received funding ahead of other projects

More research was recommended by a year-long study into wind turbine sickness by the NHMRC that found “no direct evidence that exposure to wind farm noise affects physical or mental health”.

It recommended $2.5 million over five years to fund researchers to undertake further study…….

Questions raised over research funding

Clean Energy Council policy manager Alicia Webb said multiple studies, both in Australia and overseas, had already concluded there is no evidence that wind farms cause adverse health effects in humans.

“This finding has been backed up by statements from leading national organisations such as the Australian Medical Association and the Australian Association of Acoustical Consultants, which have said there is not enough infrasound produced by wind farms to have a negative effect on humans living near wind farms,” she said.

John Iser from Doctors for the Environment questioned why the wind turbine sickness research received funding ahead of other projects.

“While we always welcome good quality research, the proposed studies are far removed from a real-life setting,” Dr Iser said.

“We live in a world with many pressing health concerns, it’s worrying that research on these issues will go begging while studies on wind farms receive millions of dollars.

“Only about 15 per cent of all grant applications receive NHMRC funding.”

March 23, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, wind | Leave a comment


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