Napthine govt takes first step to fix wind farm laws, yet more reform needed

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The community-owned Hepburn Wind farm

According to The Weekly Times, the Victorian Planning Minister Matthew Guy will amend wind farm planning laws to allow already-approved wind farms to use the best-available technology.

Under the amended planning laws, wind energy companies will be permitted to make minor modifications to boost wind farm efficiency, such as increased turbine capacity or blade length.

Friends of the Earth welcome the changes. The Napthine government’s decision is an acknowledgment there are problems with the wind farm planning laws, and as a positive step forward by the government on wind energy.

The reforms build a foundation for more action. More reform is needed to create jobs and unleash investment in the Victorian renewable energy sector. 

Current planning regulations prohibit wind farms within 5km of 20 regional towns; give a right of veto to householders within 2km of a proposed wind farm; and contain arbitrary ‘no-go’ zones that ban wind farms in the windiest parts of the state.

Seat of MacedonThe blanket bans on wind farms have killed off community wind farm projects in Woodend and the Surf Coast.

Under the current planning laws, it’s ok for Daylesford to have a community wind farm, yet a project of a similar scale in Woodend—just 40 kilometres away—is prohibited. Double standards such as this are an electoral liability for the government.

Friends of the Earth urge Minister Guy to make another common sense change and exempt community-initiated projects from the wind farm ‘no go’ zones that were established without consultation.

Yet only the full repeal of Ted Baillieu’s anti-wind laws will allow the wind energy sector to invest in Victoria. There are currently no wind farms seeking planning approval in the state. Research published in April found the government’s wind farm restrictions have cost Victoria:

  • Projects worth over $864 million in the past three years have either been lost or scrapped due to these laws.
  • Some 490 construction and 64 ongoing jobs (for the life of the wind farm)
  • At least 438MW of wind energy generation capacity scrapped or stalled – enough to power almost a quarter of a million homes. These projects would have reduced Victoria’s carbon emissions by 1.38 million tonnes per annum.
  • Windfarmers have been robbed of over $2.1m worth of drought-proof income each year.
  • Local councils in regional municipalities have missed out on over $516,937 P.A in rates from operating wind farms.

If the Napthine government is serious about creating jobs in regional Victoria, it would repeal Ted Bailllieu’s anti-wind farm laws and re-establish a Victorian Renewable Energy Target.

Matthew-Guy
Victorian Planning Minister, Matthew Guy

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13 thoughts on “Napthine govt takes first step to fix wind farm laws, yet more reform needed

  1. What other technology can be up and running in six months, continue to give clean, non carbon-intensive electricity from a FREE source of power, and operate at night, and, if not viable, be taken down with no residual footprint? . What sort of idiotic government have we got in this state????

      1. Gerard, I lived directly underneath a 750 watt Dunlite wind generator for five years– ( like 24metres away) . I loved it.. It was slightly noisy as it whirred around and I knew I was totally free of the grid. I find the sight of wind machines beautiful—- much better than the smog and carbon pollution being generated in the LaTrobe Valley.

    1. Scale is slightly different Bruce. Is the reason you only had it for five years because it proved to be high maintenance or not as efficient as you thought?

      1. Gerard, As I sit here today feeling the power of the free source of energy crossing above me, I wonder how many happy farmers with existing turbines on their land are thanking the wind companies for their inputs to their income. I wonder how the pleased the owners of the Hepburn Wind turbines are, knowing their project is inputting clean electricity to the grid and contributing thousands of dollars to their local community. The (Australian made) Dunlite proved to be maintenance free ( extremely basic technology capable of being serviced by the local automotive electrician) and very efficient throughout its time with me. The already twenty year old ex Telecom batteries I was using were at the end of their life, and it was going to cost more to replace them than get the grid on. Go figure…. It now resides near Ballarat, where the owner has not had any problems with it for ten years,. I’m now investigating 2Kw Chinese turbines to install on my still existing 24m tower and will be very happy on days like this when I see perhaps thirty kilowatt hours returned to the grid, and my bank account going up. Even at night! What EXACTLY is your main objection to wind technology???

      2. Tidal and geothermal are not going to come on line in Australia any time soon and greenies will not allow anymore reservoirs to be built so pumping water up as storage is not going to work (you need two storages). I think small scale domestic wind turbines, solar panels, heat pump or solar hot water and better insulated and designed homes are far better options than large scale community destroying wind turbines.

      3. Bruce, Gerard never answers direct questions because to answer honestly would undermine his various, fabricated, selfish opposition to wind energy.

      4. Firstly to answer your question Bruce I have advocated for turbines in Port Phillip Bay for a long time it makes sense – constant wind regime, large and shallow and surrounded by 4 million people therefore no transmission loss. But it ain’t going to happen. Wealthy bayside landholders will see to that. You would be foolish to think that it would ever happen and I have said before that the Labor Party encouraging inland sites had very little to do with energy production but more to do with less votes to lose in rural areas and pretending to do something about climates change. Secondly, Blair is full of sh_t! Where is the CFS policy Blair?

      5. Give it time Gerard. If you made the effort to be informed you would know that sea-based turbines are much more expensive than land-based ones. Even so, once good onshore sites have been taken up, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see turbines in the bay, of course we will have to wait for dinosaurs like yourself to lose the last vestiges of whatever minimal credibility you may still have.

    2. Intermittency. On a day like today turbines could be turned off due to high a wind speed and issues of gusting. Then we have days of no wind when under the influence of stationary high which could last for days on end. It is true if you have batteries they can store the power but I imagine they would not last for days. Which brings us back to grid connection and back to using coal fired power. See the following which I previously posted about the problem with renewables:

      I posted this on a previous post but it is very applicable here and clearly demonstrates how electricity prices will be increased by having more renewable energy in the system.

      Coal and gas electricity companies are being paid up to 400 times the wholesale price of power, in return for helping to stabilize the German electricity grid.

      According to Bloomberg, “Germany’s push toward renewable energy is causing so many drops and surges from wind and solar power that the government is paying more utilities than ever to help stabilize the country’s electricity grid.”

      “At the beginning, this market counted for only a small portion of our earnings,” said Hartmuth Fenn, the head of intraday, market access and dispatch at Vattenfall AB, Sweden’s biggest utility. “Today, we earn 10 percent of our plant profits in the balancing market”.

      Full story http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-07-24/german-utilities-bail-out-electric-grid-at-wind-s-mercy.html

      It is possible fossil fuel generators are spinning their CO2 belching turbines up to full power, and are simply discarding vast amounts of excess energy, until solar or wind output drops – so they can be ready to dump extra capacity onto the grid at a moment’s notice.

      At 400 times the wholesale rate, they could afford to burn away gigawatts of power as waste heat, and still make a handsome profit from the “balancing” fee for whatever energy they actually supply to the grid.

      1. Hi, Gerard, We landed a man on the Moon in 1969. Surely it’s not rocket science to even out the generation of electricity from several different sectors. Think using excess electricity to pump water to a higher level to use in times of no wind and then release as hydro… ( but possibly lots of sun!! ) . When tidal and geothermal come on stream, the intermittency and storage questions will be redundant. Gerard, it’s not Rocket Science to change to totally renewables over the next few years using coal as a base load while renewables kick in. The rest of the world is addressing the issues you describe. Storage using salt is already being used, and measures such as pricing using smart meters are going to make the evening out process much simpler whether the electricity companies like it or not. And can you imagine the huge job creation when battery technology in every home allows us to be completely independent from the grid in a few years??? It is going to happen whether you like it or not. Our children will live in a totally renewable energy society, and wonder why we didn’t move to it much sooner.

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