South Australia's ninth wind farm just opened on the Barunga Ranges near Snowtown. Its 47 turbines, installed by Trust Power of New Zealand, (who already operate that countries largest wind farm at Tararua), are said to have the capacity to deliver over 98MW of electricity. The company reckon this output should provide sufficient power for around 70,000 Australian households.
Not only was this project completed ahead of schedule, but it allows the state of South Australia to claim that they now produce almost 60% of Australia's wind power. Additionally it means that South Australia is poised to meet Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's target for all states to produce 20% of their energy from renewable sources by 2020.
[After the fold we look at related issues of clean energy, such as efficiency and pricing.]Energy Efficiency
One method to make renewable energy more viable for mainstream consumption is simply to reduce demand. In developed countries like Australia, this is a difficult ask, as people are loathed to forgo any perceived standard of living. The Climate Institute wants the Australian Government to adopt tougher energy efficiency standards for consumer and commercial electronic appliances, "to make sure we're not buying and locking ourselves into inefficient appliances and locking ourselves into energy hungry appliances over a long term."
One issue they'd like to see addressed is a move away from the current demand side (customer) focus, where purchasers themselves have to compare the relative efficiency of appliances. Rather, the Climate Institute prefer the Japanese Top Runner model, where the emphasis is on the supplier. A government approved panel selects the best performer on the market and decrees that all other appliances within that category have several years to reach the same standard. This ensures that customers are buying the most efficient goods available whilst encouraging marketplace competition amongst manufacturers. (Read an evaluation of Japan's Top Runner [NB: PDF] scheme.)
Although Australia has some quite progressive renewable energy rebates, many feel that the real way to ramp up demand for the likes of wind and solar power generation is to pay people for the energy they themselves produce and feed back to the grid, via 'Feed-in Tariffs'.
According to the Australian Greens, a recent study by the International Energy Agency and Ernst & Young found that, "feed-in tariffs are more effective and cheaper than quota systems such as Australia's Mandatory Renewable Energy Target." The Greens are aware that Several Australian States and Territories have active feed-in tariffs or are proposing them, but they believe many are flawed, because they are all different and some limit payments to the likes of solar power instead of all power generated. They are pushing from a fairer scheme that would be nationally regulated.
More Renewable Energy in Australia on TreeHugger
Australian Military Go Solar in The Northern Territory
Zero Carbon Hot Rock Energy for Tasmania. Maybe.
SeaPower Promises Emission-Free Power and Water
Turbine photo from ABC, Power strip photo from Climate Institute.