As a kid on a farm, I remember we had about six windmills which plumbed 60 metres down into the aquifers. One by one, they were quietly decommissioned and replaced by, you guessed it, electric motor pumps. Why wouldn’t you? Grid electricity was cheap, and because of the baseload supply, confirmed a level of confidence that the weather couldn’t quite match.
Let’s jump forward 30 years.
It has fallen upon not NSW or Victoria, but South Australia to command the most impressive statistics around renewable, and more specifically, wind power.
They haven’t mucked around. Nine years ago in 2002, there was not one wind turbine in the state. By the end of 2011, South Australia will have almost 560 operational turbines producing almost 1,200 MW. South Australia achieved 20 percent power produced by renewables ahead of schedule and is well on track to be 33 percent by 2020.
As far as wind turbines go, South Australia hosts 54 percent of the units nationally. Globally, they are just behind Denmark in terms of penetration and has more installed wind capacity on a per capita basis that any other country. It makes you wonder what is happening in the rest of the country because these statistics are not just marginal. The state’s renewable energy generation is five times that of Victoria and a whopping ten times of NSW.
The interesting thing here is that the South Australian government has taken affirmative action for the renewable sector. It introduced a payroll tax rebate to rewarding the industry for job creation, set up RenewablesSA to stimulate investment, and established the Renewable Energy Fund to support research and education, provide financial assistance for small renewable projects, and advise on areas of compliance and tendering.
This suite of measures represents an interesting shift back to traditional Labor policies before it traded itself in as the Party of Ideas. The actual involvement of “proactive governments”, which ironically have always funded and made decisions about the energy sector until the last couple of decades, is setting an example for other state governments that it is well and fine to take affirmative action on infrastructure without asking permission from the fossil fuel industry.
I would like to think that those windmills on my old farm are now being polished up and retooled for the new millennia as we return to embrace the What-Was-Once-Old-Is-Now-New technology.
Guest Post by Media Team Volunteer John Ashton
This article was first published on Beyond Zero Emissions
Beyond Zero Emissions Inc. is a not-for-profit, volunteer run organisation. Our core goal is to develop blueprints for the implementation of climate change solutions that will rapidly reduce emissions and give our society and global ecosystems a chance of surviving into the future. We also run broad-based education campaigns based on this research.