Wind energy in Australia: What you need to know

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Solar electricity may have taken many of the renewable energy headlines over recent years, but there is just as much potential in the national wind power sector. Last year, the Clean Energy Council (CEC) revealed that wind energy was responsible for producing more than 30 per cent of renewable power across the country.

By the end of 2014, there were 71 wind farms in operation, with an additional five expected to be completed at some stage this year. South Australia was leading the charge with 561 turbines in total, while Victoria and Western Australia ranked in second and third places.

How can wind power benefit businesses?

Australian companies are increasingly looking for new ways to generate energy, not only to improve their bottom line, but also their environmental credentials.

Australia has faced some criticism over recent years that it's not embracing the wind power trend.

Speaking on Global Wind Day on June 15, Malgosia Bartosik, acting CEO of the European Wind Energy Association, said it makes good business sense to adopt wind power. There has been no shortage of international companies choosing to source electricity in this way, including the likes of BMW, Microsoft and IKEA.

"Wind energy has become the favoured solution for large companies who need a reliable and consistent energy flow to power factories, operations and data centres," noted Ms Bartosik.

Her comments were echoed by Secretary-General of the Global Wind Energy Council Steve Sawyer, who noted that the rate of climate change has encouraged firms to take action sooner rather than later. Falling costs and improvements in technology have both paved the way for a greater uptake of wind power.

How is Australia faring compared to other nations?

Australia has faced some criticism over recent years that it's not embracing the wind power trend as much as some other nations.

Future Energy reports that more than 2,500 gigwatt hours of electricity is currently generated in Australia using wind farm technology. Although this sounds impressive, the US is producing around 24,000 gigwatt hours, while in Europe this figure stands at 145,000.

Should Australia make the most of wind energy?Should Australia make the most of wind energy?

With so much open space available - and high winds in some parts of the country -  it could make financial sense for Australia to increase its capacity. With electricity prices on the rise, businesses are constantly searching for new ways to keep expenses down - and this could be one of them.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has earmarked south-western, southern and south-eastern parts of the country as some of the most lucrative sites for wind farms.

Posted by Jeremy Elliott