There seems to be a concerted effort by the wind industry and its true believers to create the impression in newspaper articles and the news media that the policies of the Coalition Government in Victoria have all but destroyed the investment potential for wind energy.
I have just visited the DPI website – Wind Projects in Victoria which, providentially, was just updated on July 19th.
The Industrial Wind Energy Facilities in Victoria operating now number nine with 268 turbines.
The number of approved but not operational wind energy facilities in Victoria is 25 with a total of 1174 turbines.
Planning Permit Applications that have been lodged with local councils number 2 with plans for 15 turbines.
Feasibility Studies are underway for a further 17 facilities.
A cursory reading of the articles and listening and watching radio and TV coverage would lead the uninformed to conclude that the wind industry is indeed in decline and actually finished in Victoria. As the companies who have been issued with permits have a considerable leeway before they have to start and finish the various projects and also the permits allow requests for further time over and above their time limits, I hardly think the industry is going to crash for quite a few years yet.
The guidelines brought in in August 2011 re the mandatory 2 Km setback does not apply to even one of the already approved projects, a fact that seems to have escaped many people including Mr Cam Walker, Friends of the Earth spokesperson. Does he consider that the New Zealand 1998 Noise Standard should be an appropriate standard to be used in 2012, bearing in mind that since that time, turbine size and capacity, our knowledge of adverse effects on human health and other impacts have become evident. With a little care and good community consultation by the wind companies, all of the controversy could have been avoided.
From my three years of involvement in endeavouring to stand up for the rights of small rural communities against multi billion dollar energy resource companies, I have come to the conclusion that, simply because we are so few in number, we do not matter. I have not met one person who is struggling with the issue of being forced either to live with the constant noise created from living too close to turbines, or being forced to move from their properties, thereby losing at least 30% of their property values, who does not support the concept of clean green energy.
In a letter I received from the Office of the Minister for Energy and Resources the Hon Mr Michael O’Brien, in response to my query about the viability of wind as a reliable energy source, his adviser stated that wind intermittency does significantly limit the availability of wind energy. The Australian Energy Market Operator advised in its 2011 Statement of Opportunities that although wind energy can contribute to regional energy demands, only about 8% of installed wind capacity in Victoria can be relied on to meet peak demand conditions.
The latest report by the national Climate Commission, led by Tim Flannery reported that Victoria could capture enough energy from the sun to meet its electricity needs twice over and estimated that Victoria receives at least 2500 petajoules of usable solar energy on available land every year, more that double the amount consumed across the state in 2009-10 at peak demand.