Wind power in Australia

Wind power is one of the main renewable energy sources in the world. In 2020, wind power contributed 10% of Australia's total electricity supply and 37.5% of its renewable energy supply.[1] Wind resource testing conditions in Australia are optimal, as abundant wind resources are located close to residential areas in the southern parts of the country and on the slopes of the Great Dividing Range in the east.[2] About half of the wind farms are located around the coast but none are positioned offshore.[1]

Early morning at the 239 MW Lake Bonney Wind Farm.

By the end of 2020, there were 7,376 megawatts (MW) of installed wind power capacity, contributing 9.9% of generation to the electricity sector in Australia. A further 4,021 MW of wind power capacity was commissioned for construction.[3] At the end of 2022, 10,134 megawatts (MW) of wind power capacity have been installed.[4]

Wind resources Edit

Map of wind resources in Australia

The abundant wind resources in Australia provide a major opportunity for the country to grow its renewable energy sector.[1][2] The southern coastline lies in the roaring forties. Many sites have average wind speeds above 8–9 m/s at turbine hub height.

During the 1980s and 1990s, several states carried out a systematic monitoring of wind speed. The results are available to the public.[3] Most tested sites are close to Australia's main population centres, making wind power a convenient resource for electricity generation.

Australian wind farms produce an average capacity factor range of 30–35%, making wind a viable option.[4] South Australia's large share (along with nearby Victoria) means most of Australia's wind power occurs around the same time. The correlation between South Australia and New South Wales is 0.34, while the correlation between South Australia and Tasmania is 0.10.[5]

Wind farms Edit

As of October 2022, there were 94 operational wind farms in Australia, totaling 9,234 MW in capacity.[1]

The largest wind farm is Coopers Gap Wind Farm in Queensland, which began generating to the grid in June 2019, with a capacity of 453 MW.[2] As of December 2019, 50 Coopers Gap Wind Farm's turbines out of the initial 123 were operational.[3]

By generating capacity, the ten largest wind farms in Australia are:

No. Project State Capacity (MW)
1 M’intyre Wind Farm Project Queensland 2026
2 Coopers Gap Wind Farm Queensland 453
3 Macarthur Wind Farm Victoria 420
4 Snowtown Wind Farm South Australia 369
5 Hallett Wind Farm South Australia 351
6 Hornsdale Wind Farm South Australia 315
7 Lake Bonney Wind Farm South Australia 278
7 Sapphire Wind Farm[2] New South Wales 270
8 Ararat Wind Farm[3] Victoria 240
9 Murra Warra Wind Farm Victoria 226
10 Collgar Wind Farm Western Australia 222

Australia's first commercial wind farm, Salmon Beach Wind Farm, near Esperanza in Western Australia, operated for 15 years from 1987 but was decommissioned due to urban encroachment. It has since been replaced by Ten Mile Lagoon Wind Farm and Nine Mile Beach Wind Farm. [citation needed]

Wind power by state Edit

Wattle Point wind farm near Edithburgh, South Australia

A full listing of all the wind farms in Australia can be found in the List of wind farms in Australia. Relevant state articles are:

Installed capacity by state

The following figures are based on capacity and generation as of the end of 2020.[4] Proposed figures are updated to December 2020. [5][6][7]

Note that figures may not agree with aggregate figures previously stated, due to different data sources and reporting dates contained within them.

# State /


Wind Power Capacity Proposed
Installed capacity Under construction or committed
Projects Turbines Total MW Penetration (%)[8][9] Projects Total MW
1 Victoria 31 1,004 2,610 13.3 10 1,537
2 South Australia 24 820 2,053 41.5 1 86
3 New South Wales 20 698 1,902 6.8 4 729
4 Western Australia 16 ? 638 12.9 4 746
5 Tasmania 5 194 563 14.2 0 0
6 Queensland 2 73 193 2.1 4 826
Australia 98 2,789+ 7,959 9.9 23 3,924

South Australia provided 29.2% of Australia's wind power in 2019, accounting for 41% of the state electricity needs in 2019.[1] By the end of 2011, wind power in South Australia reached 26% of the state electricity generation, edging out coal-fired power for the first time. At that stage, South Australia, with only 7.2% of Australia's population, had 54% of Australia's installed wind capacity.

Victoria also has a substantial system, which provided 27.8% of Australia's wind power in 2019.[1] In August 2015, the Victorian government announced financial backing for new wind farms as part of a push to encourage renewable energy in the state. This was supposed to bring forward the building of a modest 100 MW of new wind energy in the state, worth $200 million in investment. The government estimated that 2400 MW worth of Victorian projects had been approved but were yet to be built.[2]

Installed capacity (nameplate) is the theoretical maximum capacity of the engineered design in perfect operating conditions. The accepted AEMO rating is the capacity factor rating that adds up to 30 to 35 per cent of installed/nameplate capacity. And then, depending on the wind turbine location, there is a loss of energy in the feeder transmission line (depending on length) leading to the main electricity grid.

Competitiveness of wind power Edit

Cullerin Range Wind Farm in New South Wales.

Comparing wind energy with other energy sources can present a challenge due to the unique cost profiles associated with wind power. Wind developments typically involve significant upfront capital costs, while operating costs are relatively low. However, maintenance costs can add up over time due to the need for periodic replacement of components subject to wear. Despite these costs, producing additional units of wind power is comparatively inexpensive. [citation needed]

By contrast, conventional energy sources such as gas and coal require large capital investments and ongoing operating costs. Gas and coal power stations also typically have much longer working lives when compared to wind turbines. When properly maintained, coal and gas plants can continue operating for up to three times longer than wind turbines. [citation needed]

These differing cost profiles make it challenging to directly compare the costs of alternative energy sources. Wind power may be a more attractive option for some due to its low operating costs, but the high upfront capital costs may be prohibitive for others. Similarly, while coal and gas-fired power stations require significant ongoing investment, their longer working lives may make them a more cost-effective option over the long term.[1]

Despite these complexities, existing data indicate that wind energy is one of the most cost-efficient renewable energy sources but approximately two times the cost of coal-generated power in 2006.[1] When the costs associated with pollution were factored in, it was competitive with coal- and gas-fired power stations even then.[1] By 2014, wind had the lowest levelised cost of energy (LCOE) of any power source in Australia.[2] [failed verification]

A 2012 study by SKM on the economic benefits of wind farms in Australia found that, for every 50 MW in capacity, a wind farm delivered the following benefits:

  • direct employment of up to 48 construction workers, with each worker spending approximately $25,000 in the local area in shops, restaurants, hotels and other services – a total of up to $1.2 million
  • direct employment of around five staff – a total annual input of $125,000 spent in the local economy
  • indirect employment during the construction phase of approximately 160 people locally, 504 state jobs and 795 nationwide jobs
  • up to $250,000 per year for farmers in land rental income and $80,000 on community projects yearly.[3]

Environmental impact Edit

Waubra Wind Farm in Victoria.

Australia is the fifth highest per capita emitter of greenhouse gases with 25.8 tonne CO2-e per person annually, ranking first of the industrialized countries, and ranks sixteenth of all countries in total country emissions with 495 Mt CO2-e per annum.[10] It is one of the major exporters of coal, the burning of which releases CO2 into the atmosphere. It is also one of the countries most at risk from climate change according to the Stern report. This is partially because of the size of its agriculture sector and long coastline.

A wind farm, when installed on agricultural land, has one of the lowest environmental impacts of all energy sources:[11]

  • It occupies less land area per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity generated than any other energy conversion system, apart from rooftop solar energy, and is compatible with grazing and crops.
  • It generates the energy used in its construction in just 3 months of operation, yet its operational lifetime is 20–25 years.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution produced by its construction are small and declining. There is very little emission or pollution produced by its operation.
  • In substituting for base-load (mostly coal power) in mainland Australia, wind power produces a net decrease in greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution.
  • Modern wind turbines are almost silent and rotate so slowly (in terms of revolutions per minute) that they are rarely a hazard to birds.[11]

Landscape and heritage issues can be a significant issue for certain wind farms. However, these are minimal when compared with the environmental effects of coal. However, when appropriate planning procedures are followed, the heritage and landscape risks should be minimal. People may still object to wind farms, perhaps on the grounds of aesthetics, but their concerns should be weighed against the need to address the threats posed by climate change and the opinions of the broader community.[12]

Overseas experience has shown that community consultation and direct involvement of the general public in wind farm projects have helped to increase community approval.[13] Some wind farms become tourist attractions.[14]

The Garnaut Climate Change Review, the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target announced by the Australian Government involve a reduction in Australian greenhouse gas emissions. Australia is the highest emitter of greenhouse gases per capita in the developed world[15][16] and wind power is well placed to grow and deliver greenhouse gas emission cuts on a cost-competitive basis. A typical 50-megawatt (MW) wind farm in Australia can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by between 65,000 and 115,000 tonnes a year.[17]

Based on the 2010 figures for electricity production of 5 TWh nationally, it is estimated that wind power saved Australia 5,100,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions in that year. In relative terms, that is calculated to be the equivalent of removing 1,133,000 cars from the nation's roads.[18]

Politics of wind power Edit

From 2001 to early 2006, the main driving force for the establishment of wind farms in Australia was the Government's Mandatory Renewable Energy Target (MRET).[19][20] However, by mid-2006, sufficient renewable energy had been installed or was under construction to meet the small MRET target for 2010. Also, in 2006, several Federal Government Ministers spoke out against several wind farm proposals.[20]

Mark Diesendorf has suggested that the Australian Government has tried to stop the development of wind power, the lowest-cost, new, renewable electricity source until coal-fired power stations with CO2 capture and sequestration and possibly nuclear power stations were available. However, "clean coal" technologies may not be commercially available for at least 20 years. Furthermore, to bring down the high cost of nuclear power to a level where it could compete with wind power would require a new generation of nuclear power stations that is still on the drawing board, which could take at least 15 years.[20]

In November 2007, when the Rudd (Labor) government was elected in Australia, it ratified Australia's commitment to the Kyoto Protocol, promised a target of 20% renewable power by 2020 and to do more to reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, several new wind power projects were proposed in anticipation of an expanded MRET.

Major wind power companies Edit

AGL Energy Edit

AGL operates some of the largest wind farms in the Southern Hemisphere.

Meridian Energy Edit

Meridian Energy is a New Zealand state-owned enterprise and New Zealand's largest electricity generator. It specializes in renewable energy, namely hydroelectricity and wind power, and has 2353 MW of hydroelectric generation and 357 MW of wind generation in New Zealand. It has in recent years expanded into Australia, and its Australian operations are currently focused on wind power. Projects completed or currently being developed include:

Goldwind Australia Edit

Established in 2009, Goldwind Australia offers wind power investment, construction, and operational and maintenance services. Some are Permanent magnet Direct-Drive (PMDD) turbines. Major projects include:

Pacific Blue Edit

Pacific Blue is an Australian company that specialises in electricity generation using renewable energy.[21] Its focus is on hydroelectricity and windpower. Wind power stations owned by Pacific Blue include:

Hydro Tasmania Edit

Hydro Tasmania is based in Tasmania and has three wind farms operating in Australia: Woolnorth Wind Farm in northwest Tasmania, Musselroe Wind Farm in the northeast of Tasmania and Cathedral Rocks Wind Farm in South Australia.

Suzlon Edit

Suzlon Energy Australia Pty. Ltd. (SEA), is based in Melbourne and is a subsidiary of Suzlon Energy, an Indian multinational based in Pune, India.[22] Suzlon will install 45 units of its S88 – 2.1-megawatt wind turbines for AGL at the Hallett Wind Farm to be located on the Brown Hill Range, which is situated approximately 220 kilometres north of Adelaide.[23]

Tilt Renewables (formally TrustPower) Edit

Tilt Renewables (owned by PowAR and formally part of TrustPower) is an Australian-based renewable electricity generator. It operates several wind farms in Australia, including the Snowtown Wind Farm in South Australia and the Dundonnell Wind Farm in Victoria.

Wind Prospect Edit

Wind Prospect undertakes all aspects of wind energy development, including design, construction, operation and commercial services, with offices in the UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and China. The Wind Prospect Group has been involved[ambiguous] in over 2,500 MW of approved wind farms, including onshore and offshore projects, in terms of development, construction, operations and commercial services, and has a further 4,000 MW in the early phase of development.[citation needed]

Wind Prospect's development offices in Australia are in Adelaide, Newcastle, Brisbane and Melbourne. Wind Prospect Pty Ltd (WPPL) is the most successful developer in Australia, having achieved planning approval for 10 wind farms totalling over 860 MW, of which 565 MW is operating or under construction. Two recent wind farm projects in South Australia are the North Brown Hill Wind Farm (132.3 MW) and The Bluff Range Wind Farm (52.1 MW), both approximately 270 km northeast of Adelaide. More projects in this region have received planning approval and are expected to proceed to construction.[citation needed]

Windlab Edit

Windlab Systems is an Australian company with operations in the US, Canada and South Africa. It was established in 2003 as a CSIRO spin-off. The company uses self-developed technologies, Windscape which is based on CSIRO's atmospheric modelling technology and advanced wind monitoring tools, to undertake a program of site identification, site validation and wind farm development.[citation needed] The company co-developed the Oakland's Hill (67 MW) wind farm and the Collgar Wind Farm (206 MW). With incentives from the ACT large-scale feed-in tariff, Windlab is building the Coonooer Bridge Wind Farm, located NorthWest of Bendigo, Victoria. This project is jointly owned by Windlab Limited, Eurus Energy and landholders neighbouring the project and has 6 turbines generating up to 19.4 MW.[24] From 2017, Windlab will begin building the Kiata Wind Farm, a 30MW wind energy project located 50 km NorthWest of Horsham, Victoria. Windlab is also developing the Kennedy energy park in North Queensland near Townsville, in two stages: Up to 40 – 50 MW of wind and 40 – 50 MW of solar in the first phase and up to 600 MW of wind and 600 MW of solar in the second phase. Windlab has since become a full wind farm developer and takes projects to the point of construction.[25]

Infigen Energy Edit

Infigen Energy is a developer, owner and operator of renewable generation, specifically wind and solar power within Australia and the United States. Its head office is in Sydney. The company has developed several wind farms particularly, in South Australia and New South Wales with further proposed wind farms in Western Australia and Victoria.[citation needed]

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. ^ Harvey, Nick; E.C. Dew, Romana; Hender, Sarah (February 2017). "Rapid land use change by coastal wind farm development: Australian policies, politics and planning". Land Use Policy. 61: 368–378. doi:10.1016/j.landusepol.2016.11.031. Retrieved 9 September 2023.
  2. ^ "Sapphire – A New Future". Retrieved 9 February 2019.
  3. ^ "Ararat Wind Farm Powering Ahead | Premier of Victoria".
  4. ^ "Clean Energy Australia Report 2021" (PDF). Clean Energy Council.
  5. ^ "Clean Energy Projects Australia | Clean Energy Council". Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  6. ^ "NEM Generation Information October 2021 | AEMO". Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  7. ^ "Wind Map of Australia 2020 | EcoGeneration" (PDF). Retrieved 8 November 2021.
  8. ^ "OpenNEM: An Open Platform for National Electricity Market Data". Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  9. ^ "WEM Data Dashboard". Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  10. ^ World Resources Institute
  11. ^ a b Why Australia needs wind power
  12. ^ The Australia Institute (2006).Wind Farms The facts and the fallacies Discussion Paper Number 91, October, ISSN 1322-5421
  13. ^ "The world's leader in Wind Power". Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  14. ^ Ten Mile Lagoon Wind Farm
  15. ^ "Global Warming: The Facts". Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  16. ^ "Australia tops greenhouse pollution index – Environment". The Sydney Morning Herald. 19 June 2004. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  17. ^ "National code for wind farms" (PDF). Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  18. ^ "Technologies: Wind: Wind Energy – how it works". 2011. Retrieved 12 June 2011.
  19. ^ Lovegrove, Keith. Election 2004: The Government’s non policy on energy Australian Review of Public Affairs, 10 September 2004.
  20. ^ a b c Diesendorf, Mark (2007). Greenhouse Solutions with Sustainable Energy, UNSW Press, p. 107.
  21. ^ "Operating sites | Pacific Blue". Retrieved 7 June 2023.
  22. ^ "Suzlon Company – Wind & Power Energy Company". Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  23. ^ "Suzlon" (PDF). Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  24. ^ "Coonooer Bridge Wind Farm | Windlab Systems". Archived from the original on 16 September 2013.
  25. ^ "Australia | Windlab Systems". Archived from the original on 30 August 2009.

External links Edit