January 22, 2013

Island power dream fading

By NOEL MURPHY | 18th January 2013 | www.starnewsgroup.com.au

Plans for a $2 billion King Island wind farm have struck trouble long before the project could ever power up the region.

Firebrand independent federal senator Nick Xenophon has criticised the potential cost to taxpayers and the contribution of green power on rising electricity costs.

The endangered orange-bellied parrot, which cruelled a wind farm plan for Gippsland’s Bald Hill, has also raised its beak as another potential threat to the ambitious project.

Hydro Tasmania’s 200-turbine, 600-megawatt TasWind project, which would be the largest wind farm in the Southern Hemisphere, would use Roaring Forties wind to generate electricity for up to 240,000 houses.

The facility could be operational within six years, with a feasibility study due to start in April.

Senator Xenophon said the plant would still need coal-generated power as a back-up.

“We should be focusing on developing baseload renewables such as geo-thermal rather than unreliable wind energy,” he told the Independent.

“A real problem with wind energy is that, because it is intermittent and unreliable, coal-fired power stations need to be on stand-by, which is inefficient.

“There is also a real concern regarding excessive noise for residents living near these wind factories and the potential disturbance they can cause to people’s sleep and lives generally.

Senator Xenophon said a place for wind energy existed in the “renewable-energy mix’’ but the trouble was that the rules were “stacked in favour of wind factories rather than baseload renewable energy sources such as geo-thermal and solar-thermal”.

Activists seeking to save the orange-bellied parrot activists have weighed into the debate, arguing that every remaining member of the endangered species used King Island on both north and south migrations between Tasmania and the mainland.

Activists told the Independent environmental assessments of the King Island proposal needed to scrutinise carefully the birds’ movements and habits and any possible threat from the wind turbines.

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2013/01/22/island-power-dream-fading/