Large scale wind power

Prof Andrew Blakers

From Stars to the Sun

Professor Andrew Blakers is a professor engineering at the Australian National University. He works in the area of photovoltaics. His original goal was to be an astronomer studying Maths and Physics but while bushwalking  he was struck by so many places under threat - and that was as far back as the 70s!

He believes Australia receives thousands of times more solar energy than all the fossil fuels combined so why not be involved in solar and wind? He is a member of ARENA but fears the organisation, with the present political situation may lose the capacity to award grants. 

An interesting account of Andrew's life and work can be accessed on the ABC's Conversation Hour (13/6) and more details on the usual BZE podcast which mentions sliver, PERC technologies and silicon with its non-toxic properties. 

He has no doubt that Australia could become 100% renewable before long - and that is not just "pie in the sky"!

(Summary written by Bev McIntyre)

Further reading:

The Conversation: Wind and solar PV have won the race – it’s too late for other clean energy technologies

More articels at The Conversation

Is Wind Power Increasing or Reducing Energy Bills?

By Justin McGar. Source: Engineering Source

According to not-for-profit climate change research and education organisation Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE), wind farms are making a major contribution to lower electricity prices in South Australia.

Wind turbine at Millicent, SA. Photo: David Clarke

Those claims are countered by Ben Freund chief executive of energy comparison site GoSwitch, who has said that the boost in wind energy production has actually contributed to a massive increase in power prices in the state.

The GoSwitch energy sector update showed the state’s residents were paying 40 per cent more for electricity than a year ago. An average annual bill in South Australia jumped from $2,303 to $3,247 after price increases on July 1, making it the country’s second-most expensive region.

An increase in the amount of energy produced by wind in South Australia to 26 per cent played a large part in its rising power costs, Freund said.

“Electricity generators for wind power are very, very expensive,” he said. “The more you have of it in the grid, the more expensive it makes every kilowatt hour in the grid.”

BZE executive director Matthew Wright, however, says Freund’s claims showed ‘an ignorance of the facts’ and that South Australians ‘should be thanking the wind industry.’

Wind farms lower power bills: authorities

By Samantha Landy. Source: Weekly Times

Mt Millar wind farm - photo by David Clarke

Mt Millar wind farm, SA. Photo by David Clarke.

WIND energy is helping decrease South Australian energy bills, not increase them, clean energy authorities say.

Climate and energy think-tank Beyond Zero Emissions said the suggestion wind farms upped power bills was a common misconception.

It said a draft determination by the Essential Services Commission of SA released last month, which proposed an 8.1 per cent reduction in the default retail electricity price from January 1, meaning a $160 per year reduction in the average household's bill, proved otherwise.

"To conclude that wind farms are driving up prices shows an ignorance of the facts,'' BZE executive director Matthew Wright said.

"Wind turbines have no fuel costs once built.

"In the electricity market, they out-compete fossil fuel generators and cause a lowering of prices.''

Mr Wright said this is known as the `merit order effect', which means if you introduce more of a product into a market, that is increase supply, then prices fall.

Ballarat's SMB campus to host talks on renewable energy

AUSTRALIA can meet its power demands using 100 per cent renewable energy within 10 years, according to a civil engineer turned researcher and volunteer who will be talking in Ballarat this week.

On the back of a successful design business in London, Peter Castaldo has given up his day job to volunteer full-time for environmental group Beyond Zero Emissions.

But part of his research for the organisation is communicating his findings to the public, which is why Mr Castaldo will be visiting Ballarat on Thursday.

Mr Castaldo says wind power and concentrated solar thermal plants with storage are key to implementing the ambitious plan.

“It’s available, it’s operating and it’s deployed commercially around the world,” he said. 

“We’ve got all the technology, we just need to put it all together.” 

South Australia wind power figures vindicate radical energy plan

Yesterday energy consultants EnergyQuest broke the news that wind power supplied 31% of South Australia’s electricity in the last quarter.

Solar panels added another 3.5% to put renewable energy’s share in that state well above coal (26%) and getting close to gas (39.5%).

31% wind energy is up from 21% 12 months ago. Just six years ago, the contribution of wind in South Australia was close to zero.

Beyond Zero Emissions spokesperson Matthew Wright says the findings vindicate his group’s controversial Zero Carbon Australia plan, which outlines a transition to 100% renewable energy in ten years.

“The message this sends is that Australia can rapidly reduce its high fossil fuel use and carbon emissions, over ten years, not the commonly suggested 2050 date for serious emissions reduction targets.

 “Our plan has wind providing 40% of the annual energy of Australia, and making that transition in ten years. Clearly, progress in South Australia shows that we aren’t being so radical after all. Maybe our 40% was conservative: SA are nearly there already, and still adding more wind capacity.

 “If we combine the variable output of wind farms with a flexible, dispatchable renewable energy source we can abandon fossil fuels altogether. Modern solar thermal plants, that can run around the clock off stored heat can do this.

 “We are helping to develop a plan for the first such plants to replace the coal power stations at Port Augusta.

 “Wind energy has proven it is up for the task. We just need to get the right policy such as a feed-in tariff to support the newer solar thermal plants, and Australia can kick its fossil fuel habit for good.”


Can solar thermal energy compete on costs with wind?

The challenge facing solar thermal technology and its quest to compete with other energy sources was underlined in a proposal released late last month by Beyond Zero Emissions, for a replacement for the ageing and highly polluting Playford coal-fired power stations in Port Augusta.

BZE, along with a host of other environmental groups, the local mayor and, it seems, much of the local population, want the current power stations replaced by solar thermal energy, using solar towers with capacity of 760MW, and a further 90MW of wind turbines.

BZE estimates the current levellised costs of energy (LCOE) of solar thermal to be $250-$300/MWh. Even with storage, and the ability to dispatch into peak periods between noon and 6pm, when the electricity price averages around $150/MWh, the nascent technology still falls short without further assistance such as loan guarantees or feed-in tariffs.

Wind energy's future in NSW

NSW Planning Minister Brad Hazzard, The General Manager for development of INFIGEN Energy David Griffin,  NSW Green's MP John Kaye and Friends of the Earth Spokesperson Cam Walker talk to Vivien Langford about the future of wind energy in NSW.

Will the draft guidelines for Wind energy in NSW ensure a win/win situation for regional communities or kill off Wind investment in the state with red tape? Is the state committed to 20% renewable energy by 2020 or will it put out the red carpet for Coal seam gas?
How much investment money is in the pipeline for NSW wind farms? What can regional and urban citizens do to ensure a clean energy future?

Kalgoorlie Miner: Future in the sun

A local energy lobby has approached developers about a plan to bring the traditional mining hub of Kalgoorlie-Boulder into a national renewable energy project

The project includes the creation of a state of the art renewable energy station in the region bringing with it the promise of a resources future for the Goldfields after existing mined minerals dry up.

The Goldfields Renewable Energy Lobby was formed by local businessmen in August to look into ways to develop renewable energy in the Goldfields.

“They’ve estimated there’s about 40 years of gold and nickel mining left before it goes into decline,” GREL spokesman Rod Botica said.

“We need to use the opportunities we’ve got now and to build on our success to set the Goldfields up for a sustainable future.”

Solar and Wind Power Crucial for Climate Future


By Professor Sandiford is director of the University of Melbourne's Energy Research Institute. Published by The Canberra Times, February 18, 2011.

Today at Parliament House, the Gillard Government's Multi-Party Climate Change Committee will meet to continue its work developing a national carbon- pricing policy. Given that Australia's carbon emissions are heading in the wrong direction, these efforts are of increased importance. Recently released analysis from the Department of Climate Change estimates that in 2020, our economy will emit 24 per cent more carbon than in 2000.

Australia needs a coherent climate and energy policy to arrest its ballooning carbon emissions. It was encouraging to see the Gillard Government quickly assemble the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee. Achieving a price on carbon is an important tool in the policy toolbox and should be implemented.

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