South Australia’s title as Australia’s largest users of wind power is set to become ever more solidified with the latest news that suggest the state government will move to increase the state’s reliance on the renewable energy form.
SA is already home to more than half of this country’s wind farms, providing 26% of the state’s electricity use. This is only set to further increase as Labor pushes to construct more farms.
The state currently relies more heavily on gas-fire electricity than coal, which is markedly more expensive. With SA’s clime, many have pointed out the logical nature of the state’s investment in wind power for both economical and environmental reasons.
“The theory was always that wind is very intermittent, so it wouldn’t displace baseload power and would need to be backed up,” says EnergyQuest Chief Graeme Bethune, “but in fact that doesn’t seem to be the case.”
However, the expense factor is something that both governments are heatedly debating about, with the Liberal party strongly backing an Energy Users Association of Australia (EUAA) report that suggests a correlation between wind power and expense.
The report shows a correlation between high energy cost and areas that have a high reliance on renewable energy technologies, with Denmark, Germany and SA showing high levels of energy cost and renewable energy reliance respectively.
“We know that Denmark has more wind power than any other electricity market and Germany has the highest level of solar photovoltaics. The South Australian Labor government has pushed both of these technologies here,” says state opposition leader Isobel Redmond, “when Labor’s carbon tax is introduced in July this year, the average power bill is tipped to rise by $150, which will make South Australian electricity prices the world’s highest.”
However, the Energy Supply Association of Australia (ESAA) has labeled the report as sensationalist, stating that it is common knowledge that energy bills have and will continue to rise, going so far as to suggest that sections of the report are even incorrect.
“Many of the claims in this report are inaccurate or exaggerated” says ESAA Chief Matthew Warren, “the reality is Australia doesn’t have the most expensive energy prices in the world.”
While the dispute over wind farming in SA continues, it is hard to deny the success of the technologies in terms of statistics.
SA has already reached its 2014 renewable energy target of 20% renewable energy production and are already increasing that target to 33% by 2020. In addition to this, of the $2.8 billion invested into wind power more than 3000 jobs have been created both directly and indirectly related to the technology.
Environmentally, they are finding great success. Economically they are seeing a boost. The liberals may have a difficult time convincing South Australians of the detriment of further wind farm investment.