To meet the recently struck renewable energy target figure of 33,000 gigawatt hours 1,000 wind turbines would need to be built, a Senate inquiry has been told.
The government and Labor reached a compromise on Monday on the 2020 target, dropping it from its original 41,000 GwH figure to 33,000. The Coalition agreed to scrap plans for a biennial review of the target, which had been a sticking point.
The government-funded clean energy regulator will monitor the progress made towards reaching the target.
The regulator told a Senate inquiry on Tuesday morning that most of the renewable energy to meet that target would come from wind turbines, and that to meet the 33,000 GwH figure, about 1,000 extra turbines would be needed.
That represents up to 50% of the existing number of wind turbines, prompting the Liberal National party senator Matt Canavan to ask whether such a large number could be built in time.
“So we have to build 1,000 in five years. Is that achievable?” he asked the head of the regulator, Chloe Monroe.
“It’s possible, based on the known approved projects, for it to be reached,” Monroe answered. “There are a number of projects which are, in the vernacular, shovel-ready.”
That was not enough to satisfy Canavan, who replied: “I’m deeply sceptical.”
Monroe reassured him: “It appears that there are sufficient sites and projects for it be achieved.”
Some members of the Coalition are deeply opposed to wind farms, raising concerns about alleged adverse health effects and calling them eyesores.
The head of the Australian Wind Alliance, Andrew Bray, has shot down suggestions wind turbines cause ill health, saying research has disproved any link between the two and adding that the Senate inquiry was going over old ground.
The committee is due to report its findings in August, but that deadline could be pushed out by additional hearings.
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