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February 25, 2013

Wind Energy in Australia

Former British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s words to a South African parliament in 1960, that “the wind of change is blowing through this continent”, could well describe Australia’s energy market today. As according to prominent New York business magazine Bloomberg, wind energy in Australia is now a more viable way of producing electricity than burning fossil fuels.

For a country which is the world’s biggest exporter of coal (yep, that’s us), this signifies a major shift towards the renewable energy sector. As according to Bloomfield, electricity in Australia can be supplied from a new wind farm at $80 per megawatt hour, compared with $143 per megawatt hour from a new coal-fired power plant, or even $116 per megawatt hour from a natural gas station (when the cost of carbon emissions is factored in).

Wind energy in AustraliaThe reason is partly because of the carbon tax imposed by Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Australian businesses, as well as price rises in natural gas and higher finance costs, according to the latest Bloomberg New Energy Finance report. Concurrently, the report states the cost of wind generation has fallen by 10% since 2011, as equipment is now cheaper, and the cost of solar power has dropped by 29%.

Yes, it appears the times are indeed a changing, and Australia appears to be moving, however gradually, towards a cleaner energy market. Heading back to wind energy in Australia, the market has become more competitive, and Australia’s largest renewable energy provider, AGL, has leapt on to these winds of change. The company says it expects its A$1 billion Macarthur wind farm in Victoria to be fully operational by the end of this month.

However, before we get too caught up in the positive gust of wind energy, the Bloomberg New Energy Finance report has suggested “Australia’s plan to get at least 20% of its power from renewables by the end of the decade is still required to drive investment because of weak energy demand”.

Nevertheless, the wind wheel is most definitely turning for Australia’s renewable energy sector, as China’s larges turbine wind-maker Xinjiang Goldwing Science & Technology Co., has recently stated it’s eyeing new projects in Australia. Furthermore, Vestas Wind Systems A/S, the world’s largest turbine manufacturer, says it aims to secure 50% of the Australian market in the near future.

In the year 2010 to 2011, Renewable energy production, including a significant portion of wind energy in Australia, climbed to comprise almost 10% of the country’s total energy production.

It appears the winds of change are upon us at last.

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