Community groups and anti wind farm campaigners have slammed the State Government’s decision to approve a huge project on the Yorke Peninsula, claiming an overreliance on wind energy will lock South Australians into the highest electricity prices in the country.
The $1.5 billion Ceres project was given planning approval last week, paving the way for German turbine manufacturer Senvion to build 197 turbines across 18,000ha of land near Black Point.
But Independent SA Senator Nick Xenophon has labelled the decision as “reckless” and an “economic kick in the guts” for South Australian consumers.
“South Australia has put too many eggs in the wind energy basket,” he said.
“By approving the Ceres project, the State Government will guarantee that South Australians have the highest power prices in the country for many years to come and it will choke off investment in other baseload renewables like geothermal and tidal which are far more reliable.”
Energy market analyst Danny Price of Frontier Economics said intermittency issues associated with wind power created price volatility in the wholesale electricity market.
“Rather than suppressing prices, the risk premium that retailers have to pay generators increases,” he said.
“On top of that a lot of the generator capacity that’s sitting around is not designed to be ramped up and down so you end up using the most expensive generators.”
Heartland Farmers spokeswoman Tania Stock blamed the Federal Government’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) scheme for incentivising projects like Ceres.
“The Ceres proposal is a highly speculative, highly tax payer subsidised project,” she said.
“SA’s 1203MW of capacity has struggled to produce even 50MW of power during periods of peak demand, notwithstanding that its turbines are spread from Cathedral Rocks and Cleve on the Eyre Peninsula to Jamestown and Snowtown in the Mid North and Millicent in the South East,” she said.
“Adding 600 MW of additional capacity on the Yorke Peninsula will make no difference to that equation.”
Black Point Progress Association deputy chairman and prominent South Australian businessman Roger Sexton said the RET scheme acted as a tax on consumers.
“The energy retailers are forced to take on wind power at prices which are around four times the cost of conventional gas or coal fired power and these higher costs are added directly to the power bills of consumers,” he said.
However, Clean Energy Council chief executive David Green welcomed the Ceres approval, saying it will deliver substantial economic benefits to the state.
“The Renewable Energy Target is due to be reviewed this year and if left alone to do its job, will continue to provide an incentive for clean energy projects such as Ceres that provide hundreds of direct and flow-on jobs for the local economy,” he said.
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