Wind energy in Australia

As renewable energy technologies become more popular and significant worldwide, Australia is doing a good job in keeping up with the latest developments and innovations.

This applies to Australia's wind power industry, which may not be well publicised but is definitely a notable presence on the Australian energy scene.

A little known fact, Australia actually has some of the world's best wind resources along its south-western, southern and south-eastern margins, as well as on some parts of its eastern margins.

The sector is growing quickly in the nation, although its share of total Australian primary energy consumption is still very small, at approximately around 0.2 per cent.

Earlier this April, the Clean Energy Council congratulated companies AGL Energy, Meridian Energy, Vestas and Leighton Contractors on the opening of the largest wind farm in the Southern Hemisphere, the MacArthur wind farm.

"Last week we heard the news that more than a million homes had installed solar panels in Australia and today it's the opening of the Southern Hemisphere's largest wind project," said David Green, chief executive of the Clean Energy Council.

"These milestones together help to show the diversity of this industry and make it plain that the future is already with us."

The billion dollar wind project provided approximately 875 jobs for locals as well as major investments in local suppliers and industries throughout the construction period.

"Macarthur will provide enough clean energy to power the equivalent of 220,000 average homes every year, as well as continuing to invest in the local community. It's a win-win for Victoria," said Mr Green.

The wind farm is made up of 140 turbines in a facility totally 420 MW capacity.

According to the Clean Energy Council, analysis undertaken by the consultancy group SKM found that for every 50 MW of capacity, a wind farm pays the host farmers $250,000 annually, is constructed by workers who spend up to $1.2 million locally, and contributes up to $80,000 annually to community projects.

That is more than just an environmental sustainability boost - that's a big economic boost too.

"Companies such as AGL have consistently recognised the potential investment returns and opportunities offered by Australia's 20 per cent Renewable Energy Target policy," said Mr Green.

Renewable energy sources such as wind power have the potential to influence electricity prices due to their impact on traditional energy supply, so be sure to consult an electricity comparison service to make sure you are getting the best deal possible on your power and gas.