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Windy July blows away the records

Winter is usually a good time for wind and this winter is no exception. Together with new wind farms added to the grid since last winter, strong winds throughout the season are driving higher and higher levels of wind power in the overall generation mix.

Our sense is we're seeing some kind of records broken here, but this will require further number crunching to confirm.

With thanks to the wonderful opennem.org.au, here are a couple of snapshots of how Australia's grid is changing for the better - and the cleaner.

South Australia completely powered by wind, twice in two days

Early on Monday morning 23rd July and Tuesday morning 24th July, wind power was providing enough power for the entire South Australian grid. Because of the need to retain system strength within the state's borders, some gas-burning generators were also operating, but an amount equivalent to their total output was being exported to other states.

Increasing periods of high wind penetration like this, coupled with new solar farms and the ongoing uptake of behind-the-meter solar PV, is likely to see South Australia reach an extraordinary 75% renewables by 2025

Importantly, SA is already sourcing over half of its power from variable wind and solar and guess what, the lights are still on! Bravo SA!

SA 100% powered by wind

Victoria records 25% renewable across a whole week

Victoria has set itself a target of sourcing 25% of its power from renewable energy by 2020 but last week it showed how close it already is to that target, hitting 25% renewables across the week from 19th - 25th July.

Wind delivered twice as much power as hydro in that time, with solar PV and Victoria's one solar farm chiming in. Imports of wind power from South Australia and hydro from Tasmania made up the remainder. 

(Note the totals below are rounded to whole numbers)

Victoria hits 25% renewables


There's no fixing electricity without fixing emissions

Australia's electricity system is like the Airbnb apartment that every problem, challenge and political bitch-fight you can think of comes to party. We, the Australian public, are like the neighbours, enduring this thumping, all-night trash-fest for the best part of a decade.

The guest list is epic - power costs too much, we burn too much coal, large energy companies have too much power, spiralling gas prices are increasing bills, plummeting wind and solar costs are reducing bills, but they're also cutting the incumbent's lunch, and they're also requiring transformation of the grid, solar's popularity is bad for incumbents, but it's also good for householders. I could go on... 

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Yass turns to No in disappointing turn from renewables

With four wind farms approved in the Yass Valley region in NSW, the area is set to become a renewable energy superpower, exporting clean energy to the rest of the state, and bringing in new investment, jobs and community benefits.

So, many locals were surprised to hear that the Yass Valley Council decided to call a halt to future wind farms, despite stating support for renewable energy in general. Council’s decision, made last night, is a minor walk-back from a decision at their previous meeting to ban all wind farms.

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Golden Plains Wind Farm set to deliver unprecedented opportunities

Liberal MP, Richard Riordan’s electorate of Polwarth enjoys some of the best wind resources in the developed world so it’s no wonder there are companies knocking down the door to harness this resource.

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When community engagement isn't up to scratch

The key to the long term future of wind in regional Australia is strong community engagement. For companies planning a wind farm, this means getting out into the community early, being open and transparent, promoting the project through local media, meeting with the local community groups, councils and anyone who has a stake in the future of the area where you want to build the wind farm. Over the years, we've seen industry improve markedly in the way it engages with the community, but from time to time the standard is not upheld by all developers.

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Wind power ready to support the grid

Wind energy in Australia has just hit a historic milestone, demonstrating for the first time that it can provide system services that stabilise the grid.

A trial at Neoen Australia’s Hornsdale Wind Farm, supported by ARENA, AEMO and turbine manufacturer, Siemens-Gamesa, successfully demonstrated that wind can enhance grid safety, security and reliability in a way that has until now been the preserve of coal, gas and hydro plants. In fact, the trial showed that wind farms were able to respond to grid frequency needs with greater precision than conventional generators. While wind farms in other parts of the world, including in Germany, UK, Ireland and Texas, have been required to provide frequency control for many years, this is the first demonstration of this capability in Australia.

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Taralga Wind Farm shares latest benefits

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As you drive from Crookwell to Taralga you can’t miss the large turbines that gradually appear on the horizon to the east of the village. The prospect of these turbines created a bit of anxiety for local residents before they were constructed, but they are now being welcomed as an important part of the landscape and community. Three years into its operation, the wind farm is an active and supportive part of the local community. In the last year alone, the wind farm has contributed $124,000 to important local organisations and events.

I recently joined around 30 people at the Masonic Hall in Taralga to get an update on the contributions Taralga Wind Farm is making to the town and surrounds.

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Gullen Solar Farm kicks off co-location in NSW

AWA’s NSW regional coordinator, Charlie Prell, attended the launch of the new Gullen Solar Farm at Bannaby, just south of Crookwell in the Southern Tablelands of NSW.  The project is co-located with the Gullen Range Wind Farm, and gives us a glimpse of the potential benefits that co-location of renewable energy projects can deliver. If we embrace the benefits and possibilities of renewable energy co-location regional Australia could have a very bright future ahead.

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A drive through wind farm country on a sunny day

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Ah the joys of travel! And what could be more enjoyable than a tour through the wind farms of Western Victoria on a classic early summer day. Well, someone’s gotta do it...

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Community to invest directly in wind power in New England

A fuller version of this story is available at reneweconomy.com.au

A community investment plan at Sapphire Wind Farm could be the turning point the wind industry has needed for years.

While community ownership of roof-top solar has snowballed, public investment in larger solar farms, such as Canberra’s Solar Share, has been growing steadily as well. Lower upfront capital costs and relatively simple design requirements have been putting solar projects within reach of community based organisations for a number of years.

This year could see community investment take a huge leap forward.

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