Hang On To Your Hat: New Wind Power Records In Australia

It’s been a big month for wind – and wind power – in Australia. The industry group Clean Energy Council reports that during the week beginning August 11, wind farms in South Australia, the state with the most turbines, produced “the equivalent of 48 percent of the state’s power needs.”

Victoria doesn’t have nearly as much installed wind capacity, but even there, wind made a 10 percent contribution to the state’s power needs for the first time.

australia wind

image via Vestas

From CEC Policy Director Russell Marsh, in a release late last week:

Strong winter winds last week caused many people in both states to button their coats tighter and hang on to their hats. The positive was the large amount of clean energy that was produced by the wind farms on Australia’s southern coastline, breaking records for the amount of wind power generated in a single week in South Australia and Victoria.

What this shows is that wind power is working. It generates very useful amounts of power and also helps farmers who host wind turbines by providing them with income.

The national figures are impressive as well, with wind power providing a record 7.6 per cent of all power generated across the entire National Electricity Market last week. This is the equivalent of powering more than 2.3 million homes during that period.

Wind power enjoys widespread support among Australians; a recent poll showed 76 percent backing more wind farm construction and just 11 percent opposed. Yet anti-wind power activists have gained a great deal of attention with claims that turbines are making people who live near them sick – an assertion that has failed to gain much scientific backing.

While Marsh said solar, wind, hydro and bioenergy can all contribute to Australian’s renewable energy needs, he noted that wind power “is currently the least expensive kind of renewable energy that can be rolled out on a large scale, and will be important to help us reach our target of 20 per cent renewable energy by 2020.” Indeed, a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance earlier this year asserted that electricity from a new wind farm could be supplied at a lower cost than electricity from a new coal plant – and even from a new baseload gas plant.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.