Community Power Agency: New social enterprise to support community energy sector

Hepburn WindCommunity-owned energy projects are a beacon of hope as the nation struggles to address climate change. The trailblazing Hepburn Wind farm set the bar when it comes to community-owned energy projects in Australia. And many more projects are on the drawing board.

A new organisation known as the Community Power Agency was launched this week to support Australia’s rapidly developing community-energy sector.

“Australia’s community-owned renewable energy sector is growing exponentially,” said Community Power Agency co-founder, Nicky Ison. “In 2009 there were three community-energy projects underway. In 2013, there are now around 40 in development across the country.”

The Community Power Agency will provide much needed sector-wide advocacy and support.  Continue reading “Community Power Agency: New social enterprise to support community energy sector”

Improved transmission to aid wind power in Australia

Published at Renew Economy. View the original article.

WindSouth Australia has a lot of wind power. The neighbouring state of Victoria doesn’t. Even though Victoria has just recently opened the largest wind farm in the southern hemisphere, its wind capacity only supplies about 5% of its total electricity use. As a result, when winds are high and its demand is low, South Australia exports electricity to Victoria. However, sometimes the transmission lines reach the limit of their capacity causing some wind power to go to waste. Losing a little green power is not a disaster, but it is a pity, since thanks to its use of brown coal, Victoria probably has the worst generating sector in the developed world in terms of greenhouse gas emissions per kilowatt-hour produced.

Fortunately, the transmission infrastructure between the two states is to be upgraded and one benefit will be to allow South Australia to export more wind power and allow Victoria to use less fossil fuel. Continue reading “Improved transmission to aid wind power in Australia”

Wind isn’t intermittent

Published by Climate Spectator. View the original article. 

By Dr Jenny Riesz, Principal Energy Market Analyst with Riesz Consulting, and a researcher with the Centre for Energy and Environmental Markets at the University of NSW

WIND FARM THUMBNAILThe terminology of wind generation being described as ‘intermittent’ has become pervasive.  However, based upon the actual characteristics of how wind varies over time this is a misleading description, and the language matters.

In normal usage, the term ‘intermittent’ is usually used to refer to things that suddenly switch on and off, with a ‘flickering’ characteristic. When people think of intermittency, they think of things cutting in and out, being there and then suddenly not there.

This is not at all a good description of how wind generation varies over time. Even a single wind turbine will have some degree of physical inertia, meaning that in usual operation it doesn’t suddenly cut in and out (with the exception of high speed cut outs in some designs). This is then aggregated over the whole wind farm with many turbines, such that the total wind farm output will show a much more gentle variability over time. When this is then aggregated over the whole power system, summing the output of many wind farms, geographical diversity means that the total wind output supplied to the system shows something that varies gradually hour to hour, rather than cutting in and out in seconds.

The pervasive use of the term ‘intermittent’ to describe wind generation is perhaps a part of the reason why the general public is so susceptible to the idea that wind generation can’t provide reliable power. How can you possibly rely on something that cuts in and out all the time? How could other power stations possibly cope with the extreme ramp rates required to match against that? Continue reading “Wind isn’t intermittent”

Get off the coal train and on track with renewables, Denis!

Published by Quit Coal. View the original article.

flinders-st-banner-e1367821943759When Napthine stepped up to the plate after Baillieu’s swift and teary departure, we saw a glimmer of hope for a state that seemed doomed to a future shadowed by mountains of dirty coal. After all, Napthine’s electorate houses the biggest wind farm in the state and numerous times he has publicly lauded the benefits of wind energy.

Yet, only two months in office and Napthine has proved that he too is willing to trade away the state’s environment and the health of its residents for a future in bed with the coal industry. Continue reading “Get off the coal train and on track with renewables, Denis!”

Who’s happy to see Lal Lal Wind Farm kick off?

Published at VicWind. View the original article.

PicIt’s a favorite line of people opposing particular wind farm developments – ‘Wind Farm X is causing great concern in the community’.

Now and again, it’s worth remembering just how many people there are in the community who are not at all concerned.

Our letter in today’s Ballarat Courier…


Ballarat Courier, May 1, 2013

It would be unusual for a $300 million investment in a regional area to be greeted with ‘a lot of community concern’, as John McMahon suggests about the Lal Lal Wind Farm ($300m wind project begins, 27/4/2013).

A good portion of the $300 million will be spent locally. Long after construction has ended Moorabool Shire residents will enjoy the project’s substantial contribution to rates revenue and around a dozen permanent jobs. Continue reading “Who’s happy to see Lal Lal Wind Farm kick off?”

Macarthur residents urge Tehan to support local wind boom

Published at VicWind. See original article.

TehanMeetingGroup_blogMacarthur district residents, Merilyn Cook and Hamish Officer, together with representatives from the Victorian Wind Alliance (VicWind), met with local MP, Dan Tehan in Warrnambool on Tuesday to discuss the benefits the Macarthur Wind Farm is bringing to their community.

“There’s a historic opportunity right now to benefit from this shift of power generation from coal and gas regions to wind regions like South West Victoria,” said Mr Bray, VicWind’s State Coordinator.

“With 20 locals permanently employed, the Macarthur wind farm is now the biggest single employer in this rural district.” said Mr Bray.

Research by Sinclair Knight Merz estimates the Macarthur and nearby Oaklands wind farm projects have increased Gross Regional Product by over 1 percent or $66.8m per year. Wind projects with permits to proceed in Wannon would deliver around four times this amount again. Continue reading “Macarthur residents urge Tehan to support local wind boom”

Rooftop solar is growing up

Published by Business Spectator. View the original article.

By Lucy Carter, energy fellow at Grattan Institute.

The rise of rooftop solar in Australia has been extraordinary.

rooftop-solar-array-537x359In 2009, there were fewer than 100,000 rooftop solar systems in Australia. Now, that number is more like 1,000,000. Rising electricity prices, falling equipment costs, higher levels of environmental awareness and large government subsidies have created the conditions for explosive growth.

Like a child moving into the more complicated world of adolescence, the rooftop solar industry is growing up. As a result, some of the rules governing its behaviour will also have to evolve as support is gradually removed and the industry interacts with the established power industry on a more even footing. This is not a bad thing – it marks the sector’s coming of age.

A good first step was the Victorian government’s decision to decrease the ‘feed-in tariff’ – the rate paid to households for every kilowatt-hour of electricity they export to the grid. On January 1 this year, the feed-in tariff was cut from 25 to 8 cents. This may seem like an excessive cut, but the 25 cent tariff was too high to be sustained with more and more systems being installed, and the impact has been cushioned by lower prices for photovoltaic cells. Critically too, this change only applies to new installations, so it does not undermine the support for customers who got in early to install solar panels when the upfront installation costs were higher. Continue reading “Rooftop solar is growing up”

Farmers’ dreams realised at Macarthur

Published by the VicWind Alliance. View the original article.

Andrew_Bray_and_Macarthur_wind_farm_land_owner_Tom_RobertsonWhen the Macarthur wind farm, the southern hemisphere’s largest wind farm, was officially launched on Friday it marked the completion of a remarkable journey for local farmers Tom Robertson and Hamish and Anna Officer.

In 2001 Tom, Hamish and Anna began their search for companies who would build a wind farm to generate clean, renewable energy on their properties, 20km east of Macarthur in South Western Victoria.

In the 12 years since then, with long months of challenging negotiations, a global financial crisis and numerous twists and turns there were several times when all seemed lost. But finally in 2011 luck started running their way and the contract for the project we see today was signed.

As Vestas global Chief Executive Ditlev Engel, who traveled from Copenhagen for the opening, said, quoting Walt Disney, “if you can dream it, do it.”

AGL Chief Executive Michael Fraser described the Macarthur wind farm as a “nation-building” project that had the wider support of the surrounding community. Continue reading “Farmers’ dreams realised at Macarthur”