Page 577 - Week 02 - Thursday, 16 February 2017

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change, which has led the ACT to become a leader in this area. There may, however, be times when our very limited size and physical location entirely within another state will impact on our capacity to achieve our goals.

The ACT is connected to the national energy grid which runs from Queensland, through the eastern states to Tasmania and South Australia. The Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate advises that the location of renewable energy supply needed to reach the ACT is not critical to security of supply.

Currently there are eight solar and wind farms listed within the national electricity market and available to the ACT but only one of those eight, the Mugga Lane solar farm, lies within the ACT’s boundaries while two others, Royalla solar and Williamsdale solar, are just outside the border. I note—and the minister referred to this as well—that on Facebook this morning the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate stated that we have reached 35 per cent of renewable electricity with wind power from the Hornsdale Wind Farm.

Their locations would suggest they will be the primary source of renewable energy for the ACT. However, there are questions around the fact that none of them has the capacity for battery storage. The absence of batteries in the sustainability mix to date has raised concerns about supply during extended non-sunny periods, night-time and rainy weather and also concerns about hot days with no wind.

Overseas experience suggests some issues with longevity, cost and effectiveness of some wind farm models and there are reports that many wind farms have become unviable and are being removed. In Denmark, for example, plans to build five offshore wind power farms were abandoned amid fears that the electricity produced there would be too expensive for the average consumer. The Danish government would have had to pay over $10 billion to buy electricity from the five wind farms—a price deemed too expensive for consumers who already face some of the highest electricity prices in Europe. Climate change minister Lars Christian Lilleholt stated:

Since 2012...the cost of our renewable policy has increased dramatically...[w]e can’t accept this, as the private sector and households are paying far too much. Denmark’s renewable policy has turned out to be too expensive.

Recent media reports stated, inter alia:

Denmark gets about 40 per cent of its electricity from wind power and has a goal of getting half of its electricity from wind by 2020. But that goal has come up against a stronger prevailing headwind: high energy prices.

Danes have paid billions in taxes and fees to support wind turbines, which has caused electricity prices to skyrocket even as the price of actual electricity has decreased. Now, green taxes make up 66 per cent of Danish electricity bills. Only 15 per cent of electricity bills went to energy generation.

I am in no way stating that the ACT experience is reflecting, should or will reflect the Danish experience but the Assembly needs to be mindful of having all available knowledge and experiences to ensure that we can make an informed decision on how we progress to our goal.

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