Australia’s largest wind farm project has been given the go ahead by the South Australian government just days after Toyota announced its decision to end manufacturing in Victoria.
Victoria now faces a jobs crisis. Jobs created in the wind energy sector would have softened the blow of the declining manufacturing sector. Yet anti-wind farm laws introduced by former Premier Ted Baillieu has prevented new projects in the state.
South Australian Yes 2 Renewables contributor Dave Clarke has been tracking his state’s progress on renewable energy for years. Clarke has visited the Snowtown II wind farm which is now under construction and has pointed out milestones in renewable energy. Here’s Dave … Continue reading Dispatch from SA: South Australia’s solar summer
By David Clarke, wind energy watcher from South Australia.
Following the recent approval of the Keyneton Wind Farm in South Australia a few wind farm opponents predictably expressed their disappointment and continuing opposition. Mr Brokenshire, a member of South Australia’s Legislative Council, expressed concern regarding the adequacy of the approvals process and suggested that the next parliament should look into it. But is another inquiry necessary?
Wind energy watcher, David Clarke of South Australia has sent through another dispatch:
Dr Graham Bethune (CEO of Energy Quest – an energy advisory and research firm) said on ABC 891 Radio on 9 December, 2013 that in the third quarter of the year, 41 percent of South Australia’s electricity was generated by wind turbines. He said that a further 4 percent came from solar power.
The most interesting places on Earth are the subduction zones where tectonic plates of science and emotion scrape relentlessly. Buried in these dynamic boundaries we find the most telling insights into human nature. Wind energy spans the continents of science and sentiment, and discourse is dominated by this violent collision of empirical reality and unbridled passion.
Though living full time in this fissure might seem unenviable, I guarantee it is stirring. Yesterday, the plates grated once more, as the South Australian Environmental Protection Agency (SA EPA) released the long-anticipated results of their study into low-frequency noise levels at Waterloo Wind Farm.
South Australian Yes 2 Renewables contributor, Dave Clarke, visited the Snowtown wind farm extension last week. Here’s a quick dispatch from the frontline of the renewable energy transition:
I didn’t realise until recently how big the Snowtown wind farm expansion is in comparison to what is already around the place. Something like 20 of the 90 new turbines are already in place.
At the end of 2012 total installed wind power in Australia was 2576MW. This project, Snowtown 2 at 270MW, will increase that amount by more than 10 percent. It will increase the amount of installed wind capacity in South Australia by 25 percent (from 1073MW to 1343MW).
And not a word of objection to it!
Interesting how the local people seem generally to be quite happy with those South Australian wind farms that were built before about 2010. Snowtown Stage 1 was completed in 2008.
Climatologists tell us that extreme weather events are likely to become more common as climate change advances, such as the extreme winds that damaged bean crops in the Northern Agricultural Districts of South Australia on the 30th September and again on 2nd October.
When I first glanced at this graph I thought little of it; after all, it is about fossil fuel fired power stations and not renewables. But a little more thought shows that it gives us some very important information about the effectiveness of South Australia’s wind farms.
The capacity factor of a power station is the amount of power it generates in terms of what it would generate if it ran at full capacity all the time. So, for example, if a 100MW power station produces an average of 40MW over a year it is said to have a capacity factor of 40 percent.
There are several important pieces of information relevant to renewable energy in this graph.
First: The average capacity factor of Australia’s wind farms is 35 percent. Wind power opponents often criticize wind farms for this, implying that their capacity factors should be much higher if wind farms were of any real value. Note that only three of the thirteen South Australian power stations have a capacity factor greater than the 35 percent achieved by wind farms.
Second, and more importantly: The graph shows that the capacity factor of the coal-fired Playford B power station has declined to zero in the period 2009/10 to 2012/13. (It was the dirtiest power station in Australia in terms of carbon dioxide released per unit of electricity generated and has been ‘put into mothballs’). The graph also shows that the capacity factor of South Australia’s only remaining coal-fired Northern Power Station, the second biggest power station in the state, has declined from more than 90 percent to less than 50 percent in the period 2008/09 to 2012/18. The Northern is expected to only be used for the warmer half of each year before being shut down all together. Continue reading “Wind farms cut coal capacity factors”