A study by Windlab in Australia used eight years of data from the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) and found out that “wind energy deployment has dramatically reduced carbon emissions… without increases in wholesale electricity prices”.
The CEO of Windlab, Roger Price commented on the study saying “There is clear evidence that the common complaints made against wind energy are wrong. Wind power does not need continual ‘back-up’ and the costs are not onerous.”
So what were the key findings?
- In the last 8 years, South Australia more than quadrupled the amount of electricity generated through wind turbines
- Wind generation capacity grew from 388 MW to 1203 MW in those 8 years
- Wind energy makes up 24% of installed capacity in South Australia
- In 2014 “wind turbines in South Australia will produce enough electricity to meet the annual electricity demands of every house in the state”
- There have been no increases in wholesale electricity prices, even after the full cost of renewable generation certificates (REC) are included.
Perhaps the biggest finding of all is that there have not been a proportionate increase of back-up generation capacity in the state. Mr. Price notes “the state’s reliance on expensive and emission-intensive peaking plants has dropped, as have imports of electricity from Victoria. As a result, CO2 emissions due to electricity generation have plummeted 34%, while electricity usage remained stable”.
Dr. David Osmond, who is the co-author of the paper said “The study provides strong evidence that wind energy is a cost-effective and reliable means of achieving large scale emissions reductions.”
“The South Australian experience provides no evidence that there have been either direct or indirect cost increases for consumers through the introduction of large amounts of wind energy into their market. However, it is clear that there has been a very large reduction in carbon emissions – which of course is the purpose of the RET (Renewable Energy Target)”.