Do wind farms hinder firefighting?

One argument sometimes raised against wind farms is that they will hinder aerial firefighting efforts. Anti-windfarm campaigners are flogging this line for all it’s worth, such as in this article in the January 11 Goulburn Post.

What do firefighters actually think about wind farms, though? This comment on the article is from someone who calls themself “your local firefighter” and illustrates some commonsense benefits of wind farms in relation to fires.

The reality is (if ever the coal and gas centric’ ? Landscape Guardians ?) that most firefighters admit that the enhanced access for a Wind Farm will enable much faster crew access to fires on permanently maintained high standard roads through a turbine cluster which will allow faster and easier fire suppression.

It is a fact that climate denial, coal and gas centric anti wind farm lobbyists DO NOT want published that fire suppression will improve in and around a wind farm despite the lack of air support right near the turbines.

It is also a fact that Wind Farm development companies’ have a community fund and at Bungedore a new fire truck was supplied, who would NOT want that benefit in 2013?

It is also a fact that turbines will attract and discharge lightning, there fore, some active strikes will NOT turn into fire as the metal tower discharges the strike into the ground through its inbuilt lightning protection and who would NOT want that?

We hope everyone stays safe in this fire season, and that everyone tries not to scapegoat wind farms for the dangers. Continue reading “Do wind farms hinder firefighting?”

A turn for the better

If there’s one thing Wonthaggi has plenty of it’s wind. Energy researcher BEN COURTICE looks at whether it could prove to be one of the shire’s biggest assets.

Bass Coast Post

IF YOU install solar panels to offset your entire electricity use, you pay no electricity bill – you may even get a credit. There are options to achieve this on a larger, regional or town scale, if communities work together.

Wonthaggi could supply all its own energy, on an annual basis, from a small wind farm. In fact, it could easily be a net exporter of large amounts of renewable energy, via the electricity grid, as the wind resource in the region is better than most parts of the country.Crunching the numbers based on the existing information makes this clear.The small existing Wonthaggi wind farm has a nominal capacity of 12 megawatts (MW) from its six turbines. Its annual output in 2011 was 28.3 gigawatt-hours (GWh).
With a population of just under 6900 in 2011, Wonthaggi has about a third of the Shire’s mainland population. Assuming a similar proportion of electricity use, that makes about 25 GWh per year energy use (using state government energy use figures from 2007).

That’s less than the output of the wind farm. So six two-megawatt turbines can do the job now.

If the aim is energy independence, though, much more can be done. Continue reading “A turn for the better”

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”

Passive solar design house with PV panels

Solar costs falling while fossil costs rise

In not-so-sunny southern Victoria, how does solar power stack up for producing cheap power? Peter Reefman of the Portland Sustainability Group offers the following comparative calculations. As he points out, solar panel cost “is falling by approximately 7% per year, while fossil fuel costs continue to rise”.

Passive solar design house with PV panels
Passive solar design with active solar PV panels

Continue reading “Solar costs falling while fossil costs rise”

Hepburn Wind's two REpower 2.05MW turbines

Wind farms: two steps forward, one step back

Todays news has seen two wind farms getting the go-ahead, and one abandoned by its proponent.

Hepburn Wind's two REpower 2.05MW turbines
Hepburn Wind’s two 2.05MW REpower turbines

Giles Parkinson at Renew Economy reports on the Taralga wind farm in NSW:

CBD Energy said it has signed a power purchase agreement with TRUenergy that will allow construction of the 108MW Taralga wind farm to begin later this year – its first utility scale wind project in Australia.

(. . . )

The $250 million Taralga wind farm – which won approval only after a fierce court battle – had been in doubt about the failure of the AusChina joint venture that CBD Energy signed last year to take the project forward. However, CBD then took on the principal development role to secure the PPA and equity and financing partners. The PPA is a key element in gaining financing, and partners and the EPC contractor are expected to be announced soon.

And on the Mt Mercer project, proponent Meridian energy has announced it will begin construction in December 2012. A contract has been signed with turbine manufacturer REpower to supply the turbines. Continue reading “Wind farms: two steps forward, one step back”

Parabolic trough solar power plant

WA solar thermal resource could power world 50 times over

The following news is from the Science WA website (via HelioNoticias)

WA can power world electricity 50 times over, if only for infrastructure

Written by Renee Sizer

WESTERN Australia’s concentrated solar thermal power (CSP) potential has been assessed in a world first study that has found previous assumptions overestimate realistic site suitability for the technology.

The study published in Energy Policy, aimed to realistically assess CSP site suitability and found it is highly dependent on the availability of infrastructure and load.

In the most commercially mature CSP technology (parabolic trough), fields of concave shaped mirrors track the sun and reflect sunlight into receiver tubes at their focal point that hold heat transfer fluid.

Parabolic trough solar power plant
Parabolic trough solar power plant

The fluid carries absorbed heat through a series of exchangers producing steam, which is then transformed into conventional electricity.

Study author and Stockholm University’s Lucas Dawson says new loads and transmission infrastructure in particular will open up suitable areas for utility CSP.

“Central WA is one of the best places in the world in terms of solar availability,” Mr Dawson says. Continue reading “WA solar thermal resource could power world 50 times over”

How solar power can save consumers on bills

Texas solar power’s effects could give $520 million in benefits to consumers, and the same principles are at play here. Who said renewables were too expensive? Solar Power’s Merit Order Effect And The Texas Electricity Market by Energy Matters (25 June 2012) The people of Texas face higher electricity bills and the threat of unstable energy supply again this summer due to peak power demands – issues that rooftop solar power have been proven could address. Like many parts of Australia, temperatures in Texas skyrocket over the summer and this results in massive demand on the mains grid; primarily through … Continue reading How solar power can save consumers on bills

Lay off the wind farms

Much has been made of the farmer whose chickens laid yolkless eggs, near the Waterloo wind farm, mentioned in articles in The Australian. Sinister? Maybe it’s not such a worry. The following was a letter published in the Mid North Broadcaster in Burra, South Australia: Fowl Falsity Speculation that wind farms are bad for you because they effect chooks by making them lay eggs without yolks is not true. At this time of the year the chooks are moulting and getting new feathers, so this causes the chooks to stop laying or lay eggs without a yolk. I know this … Continue reading Lay off the wind farms

Report: the real cost of Baillieu's wind energy policy

Anti-windfarm laws: what are they costing Victoria?

Media Release, June 14 To mark World Wind Energy Day, which is June 15, Friends of the Earth are releasing an updated report on the costs of the Baillieu government’s 2011 anti-windfarm planning laws. The impact of implementing “no-go” zones … Continue reading Anti-windfarm laws: what are they costing Victoria?