Winds of Change

Author: Centroc User
Date: March 21, 2012
Category: Alternative Energy Solutions, Industry & Business

The latest report from energy economics group, EnergyQuest – reveals that a whopping 26% of South Australia’s electricity is now generated by wind power, whereas only five years ago that figure was just 1%. In SA, coal produces 25% of the electricity – which means in SA, wind is now replacing coal.

Nationally, the figures are not so impressive. 80% of electricity generated in the National Electricity Market (NEM) in 2011 was fuelled by coal, 11% by gas, 6% by hydro and 3% by wind, similar to the market shares in 2010.

Here in NSW, Blayney Council has been a pioneer of wind power, backing the establishment in 2000 of fifteen wind turbines on Lake Carcoar which have since become a popular tourist attraction and a part of the natural landscape. The Blayney Wind Farms  are operated by Earing Energy who feed all electricity generated into Country Energy’s transmission grid for distribution to their Green Power customers. Each turbine stands at 45 meters high with a rotor diameter of 45 meters. The total generation of wind from the all 15 turbines is around 10MVper year – enough to supply the annual electricity needs of 3,500 average Australian homes.

According to the Clean Energy Council of Australia, wind is the cheapest, cleanest renewable energy source available – creating clean energy with zero greenhouse emissions.

Unfortunately, wind farms generate a lot more than cheap, clean energy – they also generate a significant amount of controversy, and communities remain divided about the role wind farms should play in our future.

In 2010, the Federal Government commissioned a report into the health impacts of wind turbines by the National Health and Medical Research Council which came to the following conclusion:

“This review of the available evidence, including journal articles, surveys, literature reviews and government reports, supports the statement that: There are no direct pathological effects from wind farms and that any potential impact on humans can be minimised by following existing planning guidelines”.

For more information on the report go to: http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/new0048_public_statement_wind_turbines_and_health.pdf

Concerns about visual pollution are entirely subjective. While some view wind turbines as a blight on the landscape, others see them as a thing of beauty:

“I live within 1.5km of the closest turbine in the existing Blayney Wind Farm. They are not unduly noisy, have not affected my health, and look marvellous against the backdrop of a setting sun.” Supporter of the Blayney Wind Farms, Department of Planning and Infrustructure  website.


In Blayney, the Flyers Creek Wind Turbine Awareness Group has concerns about the health and noise impacts of wind turbines.

Are wind turbines more or less attractive than ubiquitous power lines?

“Whilst we are not against renewable energy, we believe the siting of the proposed Flyers Creek Wind Farm is inappropriate for this large rural community and that it will industrialise and destroy this beautiful rural area and community,” states the FCWTAG website. “So many rural communities have been adversely impacted, through problems with health, social division and conflict, emotional, financial loss, visual pollution, destruction and devastation of surrounding environments and roads and the inability to sell, people in some circumstances have been left with no choice but to walk away from their homes.”

Blayney Council has supported Infigen Energy’s submission for 40 new wind turbines at Flyers Creek. Leon Rodwell, Director of Environmental Services at Blayney Council, reports the submission is currently with the NSW Department of Planning and Infrustructure.

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