Yes 2 Renewables has once again shown its support for Victoria’s wind workers – this time in relation to the emerging issue of imported wind turbine towers.
The promise of ‘green jobs’ is a well established part of the sales-pitch for renewable energy advocates. Environmental organisations, industry bodies, unions and energy companies spruiked job creation to build public support for rolling out renewables for years. And this has largely been realised to date. A Clean Energy Council report from July 2012, for example, shows 5200 people are employed in the Australian wind energy sector—over 1200 of whom live in Victoria.
The growth of green jobs in Victoria faces several threats. The Baillieu government’s stringent wind farm planning laws, introduced in August 2011, have cost Victoria 650 direct jobs lost or stalled in construction; 54 on-going jobs in management of wind farms; and 1408 indirectly associated (flow-on) jobs. These laws will cost Victoria jobs as long as they are in effect.
Now, Australia’s nascent wind energy manufacturers face a new threat: imported wind turbine towers. Wind turbine towers are commonly manufactured locally and are one of the key job creating aspects of wind farm projects. Imported wind turbine towers from abroad may result in substantially less demand for Australian-made towers.
Yes 2 Renewables met dozens of wind workers involved in fabricating the sleek, white towers that support wind turbines when we visited Portland’s Keppel Prince Engineering in 2012. We gained a first-hand insight into the important economic benefits local manufacturing delivers regional towns. This is why Yes 2 Renewables support the procurement of locally-manufactured wind turbine towers and components where possible.
The transition from polluting fossil fuels to clean renewable energy sources is a win-win for our community, our environment, and our economy. The benefits for local communities are greatest when they support local manufacturing.
Bill Meldrum reports for The Portland Observer (‘Campaign against imported towers gains momentum’, 28 Dec 2012)
Environmental organisation Friends of the Earth has added its voice to the campaign opposing the increased use of imported wind towers in Australia.
It follows a campaign by key unions – the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, the Electrical Trades Union, and the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union – against the growing practice by wind energy companies to use imported towers instead of locally-produced towers for new wind farm projects.
There is also a community-based campaign in Portland, initiated by the AMWU.
Friends of the Earth Yes 2 Renewables community coordinator Leigh Ewbank said the organisation was a strong supporter of wind energy and supported the local procurement of wind turbine tower and renewable energy technologies where possible.
“It should be a win-win situation – renewable energy and local jobs,” he said.