When I first stood underneath a wind turbine, I was overwhelmed by its elegance and power. The experience of standing next to this massive structure and hearing such little noise was quite amazing.
Wind is the fastest growing source of energy in Australia. By the end of the decade it’s set to overtake hydropower and become our third largest source of electricity after coal and gas. So why, in a time when we must reduce emissions, do our country’s leaders continue to push against this growing revolution?
The cost of wind energy continues to drop rapidly as turbine size increases and technology is refined. New farms are now contracting to provide power at around $50 per megawatt hour - well below the wholesale price we’re currently paying. The more cheap wind energy we inject into the grid, the quicker we can see reductions in power prices and emissions.
Wind farms are bringing big changes to rural and regional Australia. As the sight of wind towers on hills become more common, so too does the contribution of serious long-term economic benefits into communities.
Hundreds of farmers already benefit from direct payments into their businesses. It’s estimated farmers across Australia receive $20 million every year from hosting wind turbines - set to hit $30 million by the end of the decade.
Meanwhile, over 40 wind farm Community Enhancement Funds are contributing over $2 million every year into community organisations and projects, supporting grassroots community work that keeps country towns afloat.
Despite clear benefits, some communities are still unsure if wind farms are right for their town. That’s why on Sunday 21st October, Wind Farm Open Day will see 10 farms across NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia open their gates. I encourage everyone who is able to head along and see, first-hand the value wind power is adding to these communities.
After Monday’s IPCC report on Global Warming, I must reiterate that renewable energy is not just about economic success. It’s one of the most powerful tools we have to reduce carbon emissions in the face of a changing climate.
The best way to understand wind power is to stand underneath one of these machines yourself. Who knows; maybe some of our politicians will come along and finally understand the potential this exciting form of energy has for the sustainability of our future.
Andrew Bray is national co-ordinator of the Australian Wind Alliance