Even by Australia’s “pink batt” standard for government waste, spending more than $150 billion in a scheme that doesn’t save carbon emissions, as planned, would be a policy failure as tall as the windmills being blamed for the potential squander.
The latest British cost-benefit analysis of wind turbines estimates each tonne of carbon saved will cost $400.
The crusade against wind in Britain confirms the strength of headwinds gathering against the cost of renewables worldwide.
Despite industry surveys showing wind’s high acceptance, neighbourhood concerns about wind power are not confined to Australia. Nor are fears about potential health impacts from low-frequency noise.
Both houses of federal parliament have called for urgent, independent medical investigation, endorsing the recommendations of a Senate inquiry last year.
If, as the British report finds, using wind for electricity has a near-zero carbon-mitigation impact for high financial cost, the question must be: is the industry running out of puff? In his report, Edinburgh University’s Gordon Hughes, has unpacked an argument that has been marshalled against wind turbines locally.
That is their poor economics due to the need to use back-up generation from less efficient “open cycle” gas turbines to compensate when wind isn’t blowing.
The report says doing away with wind and building combined-cycle gas power stations would yield a better financial and environmental outcome. The wind industry claims Australia has enough reserve capacity in the electricity system to avoid the waste forecast in Britain.
Federal and state governments must establish whether renewable energy can deliver, and at what cost.