Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Not enough wind power

24 Jul 2012

WIND energy potential is vastly underutilised in Victoria, according to the Climate Change Commission, which has called for more emphasis on renewables in the face of environmental challenges. The commission's 12th report released yesterday said the state's installed wind power capacity, including installations in south-west Victoria, was only a fraction of the total resources that could be harnessed.

"As a comparison, Denmark and Victoria have similar onshore wind speeds yet in 2010 Denmark had about seven times the installed onshore wind capacity of Victoria", the report said. "Wind turbines can provide a useful second income source for Victorian landowners. "The wind farm would also provide farmers with payments of up to $250,000 annually". The report lists solar and biomass as other viable energy sources.

Chief climate commissioner Professor Tim Flannery said Victoria should be making a sharp shift to renewable energy. "Victoria has got fabulous wind resources, the envy of places like Europe, and fantastic solar resources too", Professor Flannery said. "So the renewable energy capacity for the state is massive and it's barely being tapped at the moment". A graphic in the report shows the south-west coastal region as having one of the state's highest average yearly wind speeds of seven metres per second and faster at 65 metres above ground. There are 19 south-west wind farms either operating, being constructed or planned.

The report predicts climate-related extreme events to increase in frequency and intensity, with conditions for large and intense bushfires likely to become more common in the future. "The number of "very high" and "extreme" fire danger days could increase significantly during the next few decades", it says. "Global sea level rise is tracking near the highest levels. This means a potential one-metre rise during this century is a serious risk threatening Victoria's iconic beaches and thousands of residential and commercial buildings.

"The next chapter of the climate story is how Victoria and Australia can find solutions that minimise the risks of climate change while providing extra benefits for our health, community, economy and environment. "Harnessing clean energy, taking advantage of new economic opportunities and building sustainable communities can all provide new opportunities for Victorians". The report says much of south-east Australia has become drier in the past 40 years, with Victoria experiencing a 10-20% reduction in autumn and winter rain in the past 20 years.