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How wind drives down electricity prices

Download this briefer (including references)

Australia’s ageing coal-fired power stations must be replaced. Wind power is the cheapest way to do so. It also emits zero emissions. If you take a so-called “technology neutral” approach to energy policy and don’t prioritise wind, then you are choosing higher power bills for Australians and more pollution.

Any sensible response to the Finkel Electricity Review must:

  • Increase and speed up wind farm development; and

  • Provide a clear market mechanism to support storage technologies such as batteries and pumped hydro.

Countries all around the world are enjoying the benefits of wind farms, which provide as much as 42% of their power cheaply, cleanly and reliably. Wind farms are a far cheaper option than replacing coal with new gas power stations - even when taking into account costs associated with storage.

Why are we paying so much for power?

  • The way the wholesale market works means the price of gas, as the most expensive form of electricity, determines the price we pay for power.

  • Gas prices have tripled since Australia began exporting LPG in 2015, flowing through to higher power prices. As more coal stations are retired, we are burning more gas to generate electricity, further exacerbating price rises.

  • In 2016, average wholesale electricity prices increased by 47% in New South Wales, 52% in Victoria, 14% in Queensland and 57% in South Australia.

  • Electricity prices are expected to increase by $40-$50 a megawatt hour (MWh). The Australian Industry Group has warned this will cost east coast businesses up to $6.8 billion a year. The same increase will cost households up to $2.6 billion a year.

Wind brings down power prices

  • Wind farms are the cheapest way to add new generation into Australia’s electricity system. The newest wind farms will provide power for $55 - $65/MWh for the next 25 years. In comparison, combined cycle gas stations cost $74 - 90/MWh to build, solar $78 - 140/MWh and ultra-supercritical coal $134-293/MWh. Gas plants also carry significant risk of fuel price rises.

  • The cost of wind power remains steady because, unlike gas and coal, the fuel for wind farms is always free.

  • Competition from low-cost wind farms reduces wholesale prices and keeps a lid on power bills for households and businesses.

  • Over the past decade, South Australia, the state with the highest penetration of wind energy, experienced much lower power price rises than fossil-fuel dominated states.

  • Even when the cost of storage from batteries or pumped hydro is factored in, wind is still cheaper than new gas-fired power.

Wind facts

  • There are 2106 wind turbines currently in operation in Australia across 79 wind farms

  • Wind farms produce 5% of Australia's total electricity generation (4,327 MW).

  • Australia ranks 17th in the world for wind power.

  • Australia has world-class wind resources close to population centres and large amounts of land.

  • Wind is the leading source of generation in South Australia, delivering 40% of the state's electricity.

  • Eight wind farms are being built in 2017 totalling 687 megawatts. This will collectively deliver 800 jobs and investment worth $1.9 billion. All but one of these new farms are expected to be operating by the end of the year.

  • Wind generators  can keep electricity grids running at a constant frequency, even through disruptions, as evidenced by Canada. An Australian trial is underway in South Australia at Hornsdale Wind Farm.

Where to after the Finkel Review?

  • The Federal Government can quickly and easily provide power bill relief to households and businesses by supporting more wind energy and storage.

  • A “technology neutral” approach to energy markets leaves Australians vulnerable to higher power bills and more pollution.

  • A clear market mechanism aimed at wind energy, like the ACT Government’s reverse auctions, will supply the lowest cost energy to Australians, where and when they need it.

Residents speak out against government push to cut size of wind farm by a quarter

Media Release: 30th March 2017

A Planning Assessment Commission public meeting on Thursday heard from local residents about the benefits that will be delivered if the Rye Park Wind Farm is approved.

The public meeting follows a recommendation from the NSW Planning Department to slash the number of wind turbines in the project by a quarter, from 109 to 84, because of concerns about how the project will look.

“Many local residents put their hand up to speak at the meeting to ask the PAC to retain the full 109 turbines,” said Andrew Bray, National Coordinator at the Australian Wind Alliance.

“More than $60,000 would be lost from the community enhancement fund if 25 turbines are removed from the project, and many residents want to realise that community investment,” said Mr Bray.

“Among many others, four families from the Rye Park village addressed the PAC on Thursday, to show their support for the wind farm and the benefits it will bring to the area,” said Mr Bray

Dr Robyn Stephenson, a neighbour to the project also spoke at the meeting.

"Given the energy crisis we're facing, the sooner we invest in more green energy, and especially on the east coast, the better,” Dr Stephenson told the Commission.

“We need to consider the very practical position that our modern world needs electricity to remain operational. The Rye Park region can get pretty windy so it's ideal for wind farms,” said Dr Stephenson

Matthew Smith lives in Rye Park and works locally. He supports wind farm projects in the area and will be speaking at the PAC on Thursday.

“I won’t be making any money from the wind farm, but have been a supporter for a long time,” said Mr Smith.

“I actually like the look of wind turbines, and while I think it’s important that everyone has their say, I hope to see this project go ahead,” said Mr Smith.

Media inquiries: Andrew Bray on 0434 769 463

The Australian Wind Alliance is a community-based advocacy group of farmers, wind workers, small businesses and residents. We share a common vision of harnessing Australia’s world-class wind resources to power our homes, cities and industries with clean renewable energy. Go to for details.

Final AEMO report sparks call for energy system overhaul

Media Release: 28th March 2017

An overhaul of the entire energy system is drastically needed with today's AEMO report confirming failures across South Australia during wild storms in September last year.

Australian Wind Alliance national coordinator Andrew Bray said it's well past time for the energy sector to be dealing with the rapid change underway.

"We need to rethink and re-look at our infrastructure as well as the rules that govern the energy market. Both need to be updated.

"Already, wind farms are operating more reliably after simple changes were made to operational procedures in the wake of the blackout. 

"Wind energy is the cheapest source of new electricity generation and is playing a critical role in providing clean and reliable electricity to homes and business."

The AEMO report reiterated that the intermittency of wind power was not a material factor in SA losing power across the state during the wild storms. Climate change is worsening extreme weather, and Mr Bray said our energy system must be able to cope.

Wind turbines up close? Hearing is believing!

Tarala_WF_visit_Mar_16_group_small.jpgA group of around 25 community members from the Yass and Goulburn regions took part in a wind farm tour organised by the Australian Wind Alliance. A wide cross section of the local community was present, with potential wind farm hosts joined by neighbours, local business people and council staff.

The tour visited the Taralga Wind Farm, giving participants a chance to stand next to an operating turbine and inspect the high-tech operations centre. Lunch in Taralga was followed by afternoon tea at a home in the middle of the turbines at the Gullen Range Wind Farm.

"Allowing people to see a wind farm for themselves and make up their own mind was really the point of the day," said Charlie Prell, Crookwell farmer and organiser for the Australian Wind Alliance.

"We were really happy with the tour and hope to be doing another one soon.

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Call for others to follow ACT's lead on wind

Farmers and regional communities call for others to follow ACT's lead on wind

4th March 2016

It’s time for state and territory governments to step up support of large-scale renewable energy projects in Australia, following the unveiling of a fifth and final winner of the ACT government’s wind reverse auction.

The Australian Wind Alliance welcomed news that CWP Renewable's Sapphire Wind Farm, in north-eastern New South Wales, will provide enough power for more than 48,000 Canberra homes and deliver $100 million in economic benefits to the ACT.

However, Alliance national coordinator Andrew Bray said other voters, farmers and regional communities around the country were missing out.

“Farmers and businesses in wind districts across regional Australia are impatiently waiting for the economic boost that wind projects provide and voters, who consistently endorse renewable energy in opinion polls, want to see all levels of government getting on with it,” Mr Bray said.

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Is the Wind Farm Commissioner on mission creep?

Is the Wind Farm Commissioner on mission creep?

ScreenHunter_05_Feb._09_12.08.jpgThe Australian Wind Alliance has called on the country’s Wind Commissioner to protect its independence and ensure it isn’t used as a tool to block development.

National Wind Farm Commissioner Andrew Dyer yesterday revealed, at his first Senate Estimates hearing, that half the complaints his office has received relate to wind farm projects that are yet to be built. 

Australian Wind Alliance National Coordinator Andrew Bray says it is not the Commissioner’s role to investigate proposed projects.

“The Commissioner’s role is to manage complaints that arise out of any wind farm operations,” Mr Bray said.

“The Wind Commissioner is not there to be enlisted by wind farm opponents in their fight against this or that wind farm.”

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Senate Inquiry’s witchhunt threatens investment

Senate Inquiry’s witchhunt against wind threatens investment in regional Australia

IDEOLOGICAL and unbalanced attacks like the one delivered by the Senate wind enquiry's report threaten the massive economic benefits regional Australia is set to reap from new wind farm projects, the Australian Wind Alliance said today.

Australia's renewable energy policy was too important to be set by the blinkered prejudices of a small group of anti-wind crossbenchers, National Co-ordinator Andrew Bray said today.

"This report rails against anyone who challenges the bias of these anti-wind senators but treats even the most discredited criticisms of wind as gospel," he said.

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Abbott's anti-wind brigade reach new lows

Abbott_windfarm.jpgAbbott's anti-wind brigade reach new lows

Today, a government committed to cutting red tape agreed to add extra red tape to the operations of a internationally thriving industry. Ideas such as a new Windfarm Commissioner and an "independent scientific committee", presumably to duplicate the existing independent scientific committee that is the National Health and Medical Research Council, were both part of what the Abbott Government wants to introduce in a nasty deal struck with cross-bench Senators to see the latest Renewable Energy Target legislation passed.

We released a media statement on this issue today following extensive interest in the topic from our supporters: 


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CEFC: Abbott takes renewable energy back 12 years

CEFC says renewable energy taken back 12 years by Abbott Government

The Australian Wind Alliance said there’s further proof today that the Abbott Government has gutted the renewable energy industry. 

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation Chief Executive, Oliver Yates, today told a Senate estimates that the government has taken the industry back 12 years.

Andrew Bray, the National Coordinator of the Australian Wind Alliance, said the government wanted to destroy the renewable energy sector.

“The Government is acting on behalf of the big power generators who make power prices higher.

“We had a policy environment which facilitated the growth of the renewable energy sector – it’s called the renewable energy target and it used to be bi-partisan.

“However, large parts of the Federal Government are ideologically opposed to renewable energy.

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