A parliamentary inquiry into wind farms in SA has heard that only eight per cent of the State’s installed wind generating capacity is available on hot summer days when demand is greatest.
In fact, most wind power generated in SA is sent to Victoria when electricity demand and price are at rock-bottom.
Giving evidence at the inquiry was ElectraNet, the State’s principal transmission company which transports high voltage power across long distances and to remote areas.
ElectraNet said Victoria produced cheaper electricity than SA during periods of high demand, which is when the interconnector imports power from Victorian coal-fired stations.
At times of low demand, often in the middle of the night, the interconnector runs the other way and transports wind power from SA to Victoria.
Ninety-two percent of SA’s peak-demand electricity therefore comes from conventional coal and gas generators.
“We’ve got more than 1000 megawatts of installed wind power sitting uselessly, their blades not turning, when demand is at its greatest,” committee chair David Ridgway said.
In other evidence, the Country Fire Service told the inquiry that because of the changing, dynamic nature of wildfires there could be no hard-and-fast minimum separation distance between firebombing aircraft and wind turbines.
“The CFS is concerned about turbulence affecting aircraft downwind from the wind farm during bushfires,” Mr Ridgway said.
“And in the event of a fire in the turbine itself, the CFS would order firefighters to “stand well back” until the blaze burnt itself out or the burning turbine flew to pieces.”