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There are nearly 100 wind farms across Australia, generating clean energy for Australian businesses and households and strengthening the social and economic fabric of regional Australia.
But have you ever seen a wind turbine up close?
While the National Energy Guarantee, or NEG, wasn't killed off at today's COAG meeting, State and Territory governments, led by Victorian Energy Minister, Lily D'Ambrosio, have laid down three deal breakers in their negotiations with the federal government:
- emissions reduction targets can only be allowed to increase over time and never go backwards;
- future targets will need to be set by regulation;
- the targets will need to be set every three years, three years in advance;
A fourth issue around greater transparency of the NEG trading register seems to have been well accepted by the federal government.
Unless the federal government can assure their COAG partners the NEG will deliver these three things, the future of the NEG is looking dim indeed.
The sweeping plains west of Geelong are perfect for wind farms. With a long agricultural history and swept by strong winds, the area around Rokewood is set to host a large project of up to 228 turbines, and become the next in a long line of regional communities to benefit from hosting wind farms.
Nearly 40 farming families stand to host turbines on their properties in the Golden Plains Wind Farm. One of those families is the Bath family from Barunah Park.
Winter is usually a good time for wind and this winter is no exception. Together with new wind farms added to the grid since last winter, strong winds throughout the season are driving higher and higher levels of wind power in the overall generation mix.
Our sense is we're seeing some kind of records broken here, but this will require further number crunching to confirm.
With thanks to the wonderful opennem.org.au, here are a couple of snapshots of how Australia's grid is changing for the better - and the cleaner.
South Australia completely powered by wind, twice in two days
Early on Monday morning 23rd July and Tuesday morning 24th July, wind power was providing enough power for the entire South Australian grid. Because of the need to retain system strength within the state's borders, some gas-burning generators were also operating, but an amount equivalent to their total output was being exported to other states.
Increasing periods of high wind penetration like this, coupled with new solar farms and the ongoing uptake of behind-the-meter solar PV, is likely to see South Australia reach an extraordinary 75% renewables by 2025.
Importantly, SA is already sourcing over half of its power from variable wind and solar and guess what, the lights are still on! Bravo SA!
Victoria records 25% renewable across a whole week
Victoria has set itself a target of sourcing 25% of its power from renewable energy by 2020 but last week it showed how close it already is to that target, hitting 25% renewables across the week from 19th - 25th July.
Wind delivered twice as much power as hydro in that time, with solar PV and Victoria's one solar farm chiming in. Imports of wind power from South Australia and hydro from Tasmania made up the remainder.
(Note the totals below are rounded to whole numbers)
Australia's electricity system is like the Airbnb apartment that every problem, challenge and political bitch-fight you can think of comes to party. We, the Australian public, are like the neighbours, enduring this thumping, all-night trash-fest for the best part of a decade.
The guest list is epic - power costs too much, we burn too much coal, large energy companies have too much power, spiralling gas prices are increasing bills, plummeting wind and solar costs are reducing bills, but they're also cutting the incumbent's lunch, and they're also requiring transformation of the grid, solar's popularity is bad for incumbents, but it's also good for householders. I could go on...
With four wind farms approved in the Yass Valley region in NSW, the area is set to become a renewable energy superpower, exporting clean energy to the rest of the state, and bringing in new investment, jobs and community benefits.
So, many locals were surprised to hear that the Yass Valley Council decided to call a halt to future wind farms, despite stating support for renewable energy in general. Council’s decision, made last night, is a minor walk-back from a decision at their previous meeting to ban all wind farms.
Bango Wind Farm in the Southern Tablelands has been approved following a lively discussion about the project at the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) hearing in March. Local supporters worked hard to see the project through the final steps of its approval which has followed years of work by CWP Renewables in the area developing the project.
Liberal MP, Richard Riordan’s electorate of Polwarth enjoys some of the best wind resources in the developed world so it’s no wonder there are companies knocking down the door to harness this resource.
Distributed renewable energy projects connected to local communities is the future of energy generation in Australia, and together we’re making it happen.
AWA's latest report Building Stronger Communities: Wind’s growing role in regional Australia looks at the many ways wind farms are connecting with communities through benefit sharing. Making sure the benefits of wind farms stay local means wind energy can build relationships and make a positive contribution to the social fabric of rural and regional Australia.