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Is wind power the answer?

There are three key questions for wind generation:

Will it lead to lower carbon emissions? Will it lead to higher or lower power prices? Will it make the energy system 'less reliable'? The answer to these questions comes from figuring out how wind power changes the mix of energy generation capacity.

'The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) is clear about this issue. In a paper presented at the World Energy Forum [in 2012] the AEMC presented data showing that wind energy was not a reliable source of peak supply in South Australia. Indeed, as temperatures and demand for power rises in South Australia, the output of wind generators falls' 

'This negative correlation occurred as heating and cooling of the South Australian landmass at sunrise and sunset caused local winds to blow and then drop away during the day, in direct contrast to the periods of peak demand (p.29)' But as the AEMC also argues, 'Large volumes of wind generation entry have also contributed to a substantial lowering of the South Australian wholesale spot price' (p29) 

Their conclusion was that if 'wind generation crowds out gas-fired mid-merit generation then it could lower power prices, but also reduce the reliability of power supply and have the perverse result of encouraging new dirty peaking plant.' 

It is mentioned that storage solutions can change the problem of availability, and at the same time, it seems that South Australia has a unique reliability problem, not mirrored in the performance of other existing wind farms across the country. 

In 2016, wind power made up  30.8 percent of Australia's wind energy and 5.3 percent of Australia's total energy generation (Clean Energy Council). The Australian Budget in 2017 focused on other forms of renewable energy, including the Snowy Hydro Power plant, the potential investment solar thermal power plant in Port Augusta (South Australia) and exploration of alternative gas. The budget also includes funds for research into the improvement of energy forecasting tools and energy pricing. 


King, S (2012) ' Wind is no answer if it leads to higher emissions', The Conversation AU

Australian Energy Market Commission (2012) The Australian National Electricity Market: Choosing a New Future