South Australian wind farm companies have been accused of over inflating the benefits about their power generation amid claims the public are being “conned” about the electricity being generated.
New research has raised questions over the industry’s claims it can power up to 5.6 million homes despite the state having only 850,000 dwellings.
The research, by the Parliamentary Library in Canberra, has found that even when business consumption is considered, South Australia uses the equivalent electricity of 2.34 million homes.
Family First senator Bob Day said he commissioned the research to highlight a “con” perpetrated on SA electricity consumers as they pay more for power bills because wind-generated electricity is expensive to produce.
“If wind farms are all they’re cracked up to be, SA power prices would be half what they are and the state would be making a fortune exporting electricity to the other states,” he said. “But it isn’t, wind turbine owners might be making a fortune but wind power is costing SA families a fortune. It is a con.”
The high-cost of wind energy is estimated by authorities to add up to $50 each year to the average household bill, as companies recoup the costs of construction.
After comparing the industry’s claims to household consumption, the Parliamentary Library’s report to Senator Day stated: “The SA wind capacity divided by average household energy use gives a range of 3.9 million to 5.6 million households (SA has 1.7 million people).”
Owners of one planned SA wind farm claimed it could generate 105 megawatts, and that was “enough electricity to power approximately 68,000 homes each year’’. But in comparison, citing real generation figures for a 155 MW wind farm in NSW, the Clean Energy Council claims only that: “The combined 155 MW of solar power will provide enough electricity to power the equivalent of about 50,000 homes.”
The council cited figures that showed up to 40 per cent of SA’s power came from renewable energy during 2014 and again last year. But this would equate to around 936,000 homes and not up to 5.6 million the industry claims.
Criticising the research, the council’s spokesman Mark Bretherton said both the actual output of wind farms, and their theoretical maximum, were important figures used by the industry.
He said renewable energy produced at least 40 per cent of the state’s electricity at a “low cost” while wind and solar energy generated at more than $6 billion in investment.
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