Cherry Tree Range wind farm: Environment group blows back

The BEAM Mitchell Environment Group has thrown its full support behind the Cherry Tree Range wind farm project proposed for Trawool weeks before VCAT will determine its fate. Mitchell Shire’s Councillors voted to deny Infigen a planning permit despite the Cherry Tree … Continue reading Cherry Tree Range wind farm: Environment group blows back

Campaign Diary 2012: Avenel Market Listening Post

WIND FARM THUMBNAILIn November and December, Yes 2 Renewables took to the road to hold listening posts in regional towns in central Victoria to find out what the community really thinks about wind farms. Following on from a successful event at the Lancefield and District Farmers Market, we headed to Avenel. Here’s Y2R volunteer Chrissi Charles’ account of the listening post:

Yes to Renewables kicked off December by heading to the picturesque Avenel Farmers Market to gauge the community’s thoughts on the future of wind energy in Victoria.

The small town of Avenel lies just over 100 kilometres north of Melbourne. Although there are no plans for wind farms in the town, it’s located close to Trawool where a wind farm is proposed for the Cherry Tree Range. In any case, wind farms could be a key support the region’s future, so Y2R wanted to go and scope things out.

The first thing we noticed about the area was the strong winds, which kept us holding onto our hats. Makeshift paperweights were required to hold our stall materials together. While it took some getting used to the windy weather proved how important a role the region could play in increasing Victoria’s use of renewable energy as an alternative to polluting fossil fuels such as coal.

The stall visitors we talked to were very friendly and interested to hear what ‘side’ of the wind energy debate we were on. Some folk were apprehensive at first, but once they realised Y2R were in favour of wind farms they voiced their support (anti-wind farm bullying silences supporters). Continue reading “Campaign Diary 2012: Avenel Market Listening Post”

Pollie Watch: Wind farms save on peak prices

O'BrienMichael57250At the recent official opening of the Mortlake gas-fired power station, Energy and Resources Minister Michael O’Brien took a swipe at wind power. Quoted in the December 6 Warrnambool Standard, he said

“The wind energy can’t be as reliable in the same way as natural gas – it is intermittent.”Wind will supplement coal and gas generation, but it can’t replace them.
” On Thursday when power demand peaked, wind farms generated only eight percent of their installed capacity into the grid.”

It’s unclear which day O’Brien was referring to. Data sourced from the Australian Energy Market Operator shows that on the previous Thursday, November 29 (when the temperature reached 39.6° in Melbourne), wind farms generated around 40% of their capacity most of the day. 40% capacity is better than the annual average for most Australian wind farms.

Continue reading “Pollie Watch: Wind farms save on peak prices”

Solar and wind: Differing strategies for success

Published by Suntech. Read the original article

By Dan Cass

Screen shot 2012-12-11 at 11.17.32 AMSolar and wind industries share the same end goal of cleaner energy production worldwide — but each deploys vastly different technologies and methods to get there. How did each industry gain its following?

Let’s take a look.

Solar photovoltaic cells can be installed at any scale and made to work anywhere there is sunlight. Indeed, they can be built into the actual device that uses the electricity. On my desk, there is a solar-power calculator, and overhead there are satellites powered by solar panels.

Since solar is an easily distributed technology, it is becoming common across communities and is highly visible. Most people either have a personal experience with solar or know someone who does. When the positive experience of lowering power bills or generating green electricity is shared, public opinion is affected. That’s valuable political capital.

Wind turbines are very different. No wind turbine will ever directly power a wristwatch or generate electricity on Mars. Turbines deploy mechanical energy to drive electric generators. Wind farms require significant amounts of upfront capital, and must be built in particular localities, where there is a rich wind resource. Typically, this meant putting groups of many turbines together in rural or offshore locations.

For wind, the best way to gain political capital is for communities to literally invest in the technology and the outcome. In its purest form, this means community-owned wind cooperatives. This helps broaden and localize ownership of wind generators. The Danes are leaders in this area, with three-quarters of their wind turbine assets held not by corporations, but by farmers, locals and co-operatives. Continue reading “Solar and wind: Differing strategies for success”

Pollie Watch: Shadow energy minister questioned on wind energy

As promised, Yes 2 Renewables is keeping up pressure on Victorian politicians when it comes to state wind energy policy.

WindFarmA fortnight ago, it was at the Rural Press Club, where we questioned leader of the opposition Daniel Andrews on Labor’s position on the government’s anti-wind farm policy. This week it was at the 8th Australian Wind Energy 2012 conference, where shadow energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio branded the Baillieu government’s wind planning laws “extreme.” Y2R kicked off a Q&A session with shadow energy spokesperson, Lily D’Ambrosio.

Leigh Ewbank, Yes 2 Renewables community coordinator:

Two weeks ago in Ballarat while addressing the Rural Press Club, opposition leader Daniel Andrews commented on Labor’s track record on wind energy while in government. Will the repeal of the 2 kilometre setback and other VC82 measures be on the table in terms of Labor’s forthcoming renewable energy policy? Continue reading “Pollie Watch: Shadow energy minister questioned on wind energy”

Pollie Watch: Shadow energy minister brands Baillieu’s wind laws “extreme”

Lily_smallWind energy is quickly becoming a bread-and-butter issue for the Victorian Labor opposition. At the 8th Australian Wind Energy 2012 conference, shadow energy spokesperson Lily D’Ambrosio critiqued the Baillieu government’s “extreme” wind energy planning laws.

While the Labor opposition has been prepared to hit the Baillieu government hard for its regressive wind energy policies, it has been reluctant to release details of its wind energy policy alternative. Rest assured, Yes 2 Renewables will keep up the heat on the opposition until details are known.

The opposition energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio’s speech follows:   Continue reading “Pollie Watch: Shadow energy minister brands Baillieu’s wind laws “extreme””

The Conversation: Vampires and wind farms: mass hysteria can be a pain in the neck

Published by The Conversation. Read the original here.

By Ryan Wittingslow, PhD student in Film and Philosophy at the University of Sydney. 

Screen shot 2012-12-05 at 1.32.13 PMIf the latest spate of news stories coming out of Serbia are anything to go by, the tiny and otherwise unassuming village of Zarožje has something of a vampire problem.

Local legend tells of Sava Savanović, a fearsome character said to inhabit an abandoned watermill on the banks of the Rogačica river, who had the nasty habit of drinking the blood of those who desired to mill their grain in his home.

The mill, long abandoned to the elements, proved a hit with macabre tourists, and enterprising villagers treated the area as a tourist attraction, running tours to the shack (during the day, of course). However, years of privation and lack of maintenance took their toll, and the building recently collapsed.

The revelation sent shockwaves through the village. Locals fear that Sava Savanović has been roused by the destruction of his home, and the malevolent spirit is now out for blood.

Zarožje mayor, Miodrag Vujetic, said, “People are worried, […] the thought that he is now homeless and looking for somewhere else and possibly other victims is terrifying people. We are all frightened.”

Meanwhile, the local council has enacted certain public safety measures: garlic in the windows and doorways of residents, crosses in each room of their houses. Some residents have begun carrying stakes. “I understand that people who live elsewhere in Serbia are laughing at our fears, but here most people have no doubt that vampires exist,” Mr Vujetic said.

It is tempting to think of these people as foolish (humblest apologies to those labouring under the delusion that vampires exist). I certainly laughed when I read the story.

Nonetheless, stories such as these do serve a pedagogical purpose, in that they throw into question our shared conceit that we are rational creatures.

After all, these villagers are, in the interest of being charitable, neither madmen nor children. They are grown men and women who, despite being in all important respects just like us, not only believe that vampires exist, but are terrified of them.

A psychiatrist might well consider this an instance of mass hysteria: the spontaneous manifestation of inappropriate emotional excess by more than one person. It is spontaneous because it lacks a meaningful trigger; it is inappropriate because they are afraid of something for which there is no evidence. Continue reading “The Conversation: Vampires and wind farms: mass hysteria can be a pain in the neck”

Wind turbine infrasound: What’s all the noise about?

Originally published at RenewEconomy.

By Richard Mackie.

REOn Wednesday the Senate inquiry into excessive noise from wind farms released their report. The inquiry was supposed to focus on audible noise but debate strayed into concerns that wind turbines can cause health problems by producing infrasound (sound of a frequency so low that it is normally inaudible) and low frequency noise.

Wind farm opposition groups such as the Waubra Foundation are prone to making extreme statements about wind turbines such as this from their senate inquiry submission “…characteristic symptom patterns have been reported at distances up 10km away from the nearest wind turbine.” Infrasound is blamed and understandably people get concerned.

So where does this idea come from? The Senate inquiry gives us the answers. Submissions represent a global who’s who in the debate on wind farms and health. Often information provided to support the wind farms-cause-health-problems idea actually demonstrates the opposite. Continue reading “Wind turbine infrasound: What’s all the noise about?”

Wind farms pump $67m into southwest Victoria

Macartur WFSouthwest Victoria’s regional economy has boomed from the construction of the Macarthur and Oaklands wind farms. To date, the projects have pumped $67 million into the local economy, employed around 900 people during construction, and will provide 52 ongoing jobs.

The report’s findings are consistent with the Baillieu government’s own figures which found that, in 2009 alone, the wind energy sector pumped $1.2 billion into the Victorian economy.

Despite the apparent economic benefits wind farms deliver for regional communities, Premier Ted Baillieu’s planning reforms have shut down Victoria’s once thriving wind energy sector.

Since the introduction of the VC82 planning amendment in August 2011, 700+ megawatts of wind farm projects have been withdrawn (see The Wind Farms That Baillieu Killed…‘) and not one major project been approved.

Unless Premier Baillieu has the good sense to repeal the VC82 amendment, regional Victoria is unlikely to enjoy the economic benefits of wind farms in the near future.  Continue reading “Wind farms pump $67m into southwest Victoria”

Renewable energy is blowing in the wind

Published by the Geelong Advertiser

Breamlea Wind TurbineGeelong and the Bellarine Peninsula have played a pioneering role when it comes to wind energy in Australia.

25-years ago this month, the blades of Victoria’s first wind turbine started spinning in Breamlea—transforming the steady sea winds into clean electricity for Victorians.

The State Electricity Commission built the Breamlea turbine in 1987 to demonstrate the viability of wind energy in Victoria. We now know the SEC was onto something.

Today there are nine operating wind farms in Victoria. These farms tap the state’s vast wind energy resource to power tens of thousands of homes and businesses without the adverse health and environmental impacts caused by fossil fuels.

Unfortunately the blossoming wind energy sector came to an abrupt halt last year when the Baillieu government introduced heavy-handed planning laws that unfairly targeted wind farms.

The VC-82 amendment to the Victorian planning scheme, effectively bans wind farms from large swathes of Victoria and allow just one objector to veto wind turbine within 2 kilometres.

Meanwhile, no such restrictions apply to coal and coal-seam gas exploration and development. A local example many will be aware of is in Anglesea, where residents have no say over the coalmine and power plant less than 2 kilometres from their town.

Thanks to Premier Baillieu and his Coalition colleagues, Victoria is no longer the place to be for wind energy. Not one single wind farm has been approved in over a year—costing the state thousands of jobs, billions of dollars worth of investment and one of the best tools available for community action on climate change. Continue reading “Renewable energy is blowing in the wind”