Largest wind farm in the Southern Hemisphere opens in Australia

Largest wind farm in the Southern Hemisphere opens in Australia

April saw the long-awaited official launch of the 420-megawatt Macarthur Wind Farm in the south eastern state of Victoria. The billion-dollar project is made up of 140 three-megawatt V112 turbines and was an impressive sight to see – definitely worth the eight-hour return bus trip from Melbourne.

It was great to see the new Victorian State Premier Denis Napthine in attendance, who is also the region‚Äôs local member of Parliament. Premier Napthine officially opened the project, which brings Australia’s total installed capacity to just over 3000 megawatts. The Premier also demonstrated enthusiasm for both the project and the local industry, which was very encouraging.

Click here for the Clean Energy Council’s media release on the Macarthur Wind Farm.

Current status – wind energy in Australia

The Clean Energy Council is currently compiling data ahead of the release in June of its Clean Energy Australia report. Some of the wind energy highlights as at the end of 2012 (not including the new Macarthur Wind Farm) are:

  • Australia had a cumulative installed wind capacity of 2,548 megawatts
  • wind supplied approximately 7700 gigawatt hours of electricity in 2012, or roughly 3.4 per cent of Australia‚Äôs electricity needs
  • five new wind farms were commissioned in 2012, adding 358 megawatts of new capacity
  • there are now 1397 turbines across 62 wind farms in Australia
  • Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimated that there was A$935.3 million of new financial investment in Australian wind power in the 2012 calendar year
  • there are 11 projects under construction, expected to add 638 megawatts of capacity in 2013, and approximately 1000 megawatts in the following two years.

Government response to Renewable Energy Target review

The Australian Government announced its response to a review of the Renewable Energy Target (RET), the key policy mechanism supporting wind energy, in March. The outcome was great news for the industry with the government adopting most of the review’s recommendations from the Climate Change Authority (CCA), which called for the target to be largely left alone.

The government clearly listened to the Clean Energy Council in effectively announcing no change to the RET legislation. Most important for wind is that the fixed target of 41,000 gigawatt hours for the large-scale RET will remain.

The government accepted 28 of the 34 recommendations from the CCA, with an additional three recommendations accepted in principle subject to the outcome of further consultation and analysis. With this review now complete, the next review of the RET legislation is currently scheduled to take place in 2014.