Encourage wind development: Infigen

25 January 2012

A measured approach to wind energy development is essential if NSW is to realise its potential, according to the managing director of publicly listed renewable energy company Infigen, Miles George.

Infigen owns the 140.7 megawatt Capital wind farm, 12 kilometres south west of Tarago, and recently completed the 48.3MW Woodlawn wind farm, a $115 million project that will power about 23,000 homes when it is fully operational next year.

Woodlawn is Infigen’s sixth Australian project.

Mr Miles said South Australia had completely rejected the Victorian government’s arbitrary planning approaching requiring a 2km buffer zone between wind turbines and neighbouring residences and he pointed out such a buffer zone did not apply to “less regulated, polluting industries”.

“NSW needs to adopt planning rules more aligned with South Australia’s measured approach,” Mr George said.

“NSW has missed out on most of Australia’s renewable energy investment to date, but it has the resources and the capability to secure a substantial share of the future investment opportunities,” he said.

But a clear set of rules was essential.

While regulatory uncertainties remain at Commonwealth and State levels, the pace of new investment across Australia and NSW in particular would be hindered, he said.

Infigen was pleased the NSW Government had rejected the mandatory 2km buffer.

“We note the guidelines do not include any requirement to monitor, or measure, infrasound, which Infigen maintains is consistent with scientific evidence modern wind turbines do not emit infrasound at levels that can even be perceived by human beings, let alone have any detrimental health impacts,” Mr George said.

He welcomed Planning Minister Brad Hazzard’s statement that the government recognised the need to ensure renewable energy had a bright future in NSW.

The Government has a 20 per cent renewable energy target by 2020.

Mr George said many landholders saw wind energy as an opportunity to diversify income streams and provide the potential to “drought proof” their farms.

He said Infigen was spending $4 million annually in the Bungendore region.

“As the industry grows, so too will ancillary benefits,” he said.

“We have found it is only after construction of a wind farm begins that the local community truly appreciates how beneficial it can be.”

Mr George said the Federal Government’s Energy White Paper, released late last year, debunked many myths.

“The large scale renewable energy target will cost households $19 per annum – I think in 20 years people will look back and say, why didn’t we move more quickly to reduce the pollution effects of burning fossil fuels?”

He said there were more than 100,000 wind farms in countries far more densely populated than Australia.

“With this degree of successful global adoption, there is ample evidence to substantiate the industry’s position that wind energy generation technology is safe and that there are no adverse health effects,” Mr George said.

By Bronwyn Marr
Appeared in The Land on 25 January 2012