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Victorian Minister speaks to AWA members

Lily_Sophie_AGM.jpgEarlier this week, a crowd of Australian Wind Alliance members and supporters were treated to an exclusive ‘on the couch’ session with Victoria’s Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio.

Minister D’Ambrosio was interviewed by Sophie Vorrath, Deputy Editor of Renew Economy and One Step Off the Grid following the AWA’s 2016 Annual General Meeting.

Minister D’Ambrosio spoke about the Victorian Government’s deep commitment to the State’s Renewable Energy Target to drive jobs and investment in the state. And if they manage to lure some business away from NSW well that wouldn’t be too bad either.

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South Australia's Blackout - The Facts

The facts about the South Australian Blackout

  • What happened in South Australia on Wednesday 28th September?

    A one-in-50 year weather event hit South Australia with severe thunderstorms and damaging winds exceeding 90 km/h. Hail the size of golf balls struck the state with 80,000 lightning strikes reported. The severe storm resulted in catastrophic damage to power infrastructure with multiple transmission towers taken out. 

  •  Wind power did not cause the blackouts

    The failure of South Australia's energy network was due to the severe weather event, pure and simple. A mega-storm knocked out 23 transmission towers and high-voltage power lines. Storms of this magnitude will knock out the power network no matter what the main source of power is; coal or wind. As a standard safety response, the South Australian energy system was isolated from the National Electricity Market.


  • Wind power was supplying 50% of South Australia’s power as the lights went outs 

    South Australia’s wind farms were generating nearly 1,000 megawatts of power into the state’s electricity system (approximately 50% of the state’s energy demand), before the mega storm tripped the network at 3.48pm on Wednesday 28th September. The graph below shows that the wind farms were shut down when the network failed to carry the energy they were delivering.


  • Attempts to blame renewables are not only unfounded, but irresponsible. 

    A range of commentators and politicians used the South Australian blackout to make baseless claims about renewables. Defenders of the fossil fuel industry have been quick to condemn renewables despite there being no evidence that renewable energy sources were linked to the power outage.

  • This mega storm is a wake-up call for Australia. 

    Climate science shows that we will experience more extreme weather events like this mega-storm as the temperature rises and we have a wetter and warmer atmosphere. We need to rapidly reduce our greenhouse emissions.

    Read the Australian Wind Alliance's Media Release here. 

Wind farm vision fires up COAG rally

COAGRally_crop.jpgAWA member and wind farm neighbour Dimity Taylor joined an inspiring line up of speakers at a snap rally in front of the COAG meeting last Friday. Organised by Friends of the Earth, the rally brought together a wide range of groups, all calling on the nation's Energy ministers to aim high for an urgent transition to renewable energy.

Dimity hit a chord with her story about how wind power was delivering not just for the planet but for her community. It was noted by a few in the crowd that this is a different story than the one they were reading in the newspapers.

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Unprecedented support for Rye Park Wind Farm

Taralga_Wind_Farm_Charlie.jpgWhen Planning Departments put projects out into the public domain, they expect to hear mostly from objectors. Not a bundle of laughs, but pretty much what they’ve come to expect.

When the first public exhibition went out for the Rye Park Wind Farm between Yass and Boorowa on the southern tablelands of NSW, the Department received 115 submissions. Only eight supported the project.

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How much power does a wind farm make?


- Andrew Bray, RE-Alliance National Director

While the scale of the power that wind farms generate is not always clear, they're probably producing more than you'd think.

A friend recently had someone say to her, "Those things wouldn't even power Bungendore. They don't actually make that much power." "How do I answer him?" she asked.

For the readers' benefit, Bungendore is a sweet little town just out of Canberra. And the 'things' the questioner was referring to is the Capital and Woodlawn wind farms, on the shore of Lake George.

To the question of just how much energy wind farms put out, here's my answer.

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Barnaby hops on board

12472427_520933668031589_4644417396579265704_n.jpgGiven the jobs and income that wind farms deliver for rural Australia, it's been a bit of a mystery that wind hasn't enjoyed more support from the 'party of the bush', the Nationals. With wind energy booming around the world, new wind farms are an ideal way for rural Australia to build their prosperity by plugging into new industries based on clean energy.

So we were delighted to see Nationals leader and Deputy PM, Barnaby Joyce, publicly support the construction of the first stage of the White Rock Wind Farm, to be built in his electorate of New England.

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Members give Minister the heads up on support for wind

Barilaro_feb16_sml.jpgAWA members and farmers, Linda and Paul Cavanagh and I travelled to Queanbeyan on Monday to meet with NSW Minister and local member for Monaro, John Barilaro. As Mr Barilaro is the Minister for Regional Development and wind farms represent such a good regional development opportunity, we thought it was important he heard from people on the ground about what’s really going on in communities with wind farm projects in the offing.

Linda and Paul are potential host landholders in the Rye Park Wind Farm project and are part of a local group of wind supporters with other hosts, neighbours and local business people.

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New England ready for wind

TransgridWorkshop.jpgWith three wind farm projects on New England’s regional development horizon for over a decade now - White Rock, Sapphire and Glen Innes - the region’s community and business leaders are more than ready to see some action.

NSW Organiser, Charlie Prell, and I travelled to Glen Innes for a workshop to discuss a proposal from electricity transmission company, Transgrid, for a renewable energy hub in the region. If the project proceeds, it will greatly increase the chances that all three wind projects will be built and this will mean big things for local employment opportunities.

What leapt out from the discussions for us was the overwhelming support from community leaders for wind energy in the region. The day saw mayors, councillors past and present, academics and representatives from the local business, government and community sectors come together from towns across the region including Glen Innes, Inverell and Armidale.

“I’m very passionate about my community,” said Colin Price, Mayor of Glen Innes Severn Shire Council “I’m probably more passionate about rugby than wind farms but wind farms are going to be good for my community so I’ll support them passionately too!”

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Supporters meet up to talk wind


One of the areas in Australia likely to see significant wind farm construction in coming years is the Southern Tablelands area of NSW around Yass and Goulburn. There are at least eight advanced wind farm projects in the area - Yass Valley, Bango, Rye Park, Biala, Collector, Capital II, Crookwell II and Crookwell III.

There’s a handful of avid wind farm opponents in the area, not least of whom is Tony Abbott’s ex-Chief Business Advisor, Maurice Newman.

So it wasn’t before time that we brought together a group of 35 keen wind supporters. In the picturesque surrounds of Tommy’s Creek, just outside of Rye Park, the group discussed the most effective ways for them to promote wind farms in the area. 


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A career shifts from coal to wind

Mark Wiggins, Operations Manager at Boco Rock Wind FarmWith the mining boom now at an end, Australia is grappling with a sharp jobs contraction in the coal, gas and resources sectors. As thousands of workers contemplate their futures, many of those in regional Australia will increasingly look to jobs in clean energy technologies to keep them in work.

Wind farms are a logical next step for workers experienced in fossil fuel power generation and that neatly describes the trajectory of AWA member, Mark Wiggins. After 20 years working in coal and hydro, Mark is now Operations Manager at Boco Rock Wind Farm, standing on the Monaro plains, 150 km south of Canberra.

This position not only allows him to keep his family living in nearby Cooma but also sees him navigating some very twenty first century challenges, applying power generation know-how in an international investment context.

On a recent visit to the wind farm, I caught up with Mark and asked him a few questions.

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