NSW and Victorian electricity emissions remain amongst the highest in the world. Meanwhile South Australia's has fallen by 18% in the last five years without a rise in wholesale prices. A study released today by CSIRO spin out Windlab, shows that the difference is wind energy.
South Australia gets over 20% of its electricity from wind” said author Dr David Osmond “This has allowed the state to use less highly polluting brown coal and peaking gas than it did in the past. What may surprise some is that wind energy has also reduced wholesale prices” said Dr Osmond. “It does this because it has no fuel costs. Each half hour every generator in the state competes to supply electricity and wind is the cheapest. It often forces very expensive peaking plants to stand idle.”
The South Australian study also proves that wind does not need substantial amounts of back-up generation to be installed. “The percentage of generation devoted to peaking plant remained near constant as the penetration rates of wind soared. We did not find any evidence that significant additional 'back-up' plant has been installed to compensate for the extra wind power” said Dr Osmond. “The evidence is that wind energy provides significant environmental benefits through reduced emissions, and that the financial costs of achieving this are low.”
Victoria has just released legislation making it harder for wind turbines to be installed and the NSW Premier is on the record as stating his preference is for no new turbines to be installed in his state.
Report co-author and Windlab COO Luke Osborne said “in much of Australia it is harder to put up a wind turbine than dig a coal mine or drill for coal seam gas. It is time the nation took note of South Australia's example and harnessed this effective and affordable technology. The NSW Government's own modeling shows the state can easily reduce its emissions by 12% by following South Australia's example and installing more renewable energy – and South Australia shows it won't be expensive to do so.”
Download the study here