The Australian Wind Alliance is warning that a "technology neutral" approach to energy policy will cost us "in more ways than one".
This is the Royalla Solar Farm — a paddock full of solar photovoltaic modules that together are capable of powering 4500 Canberra homes. And despite living in Australia's smallest territory, Royalla is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the ACT's solar accomplishments.
The warning comes as State and Federal Governments prepare to meet to discuss the Chief Scientist Alan Finkel's report on how to fix the country's "broken" electricity system. Wind Alliance national co-ordinator Andrew Bray said the country's Energy Ministers know wind energy is keeping a lid on skyrocketing power bills, with the added bonus of reducing pollution.
"Any response to the Finkel review that doesn't result in a huge boost to the amount of wind energy in the country won't be worth the paper it's written on," Bray said. "The goal is to secure cheap, clean, reliable power and wind power is the answer. It is clean and brings down power bills, and reliably so."
"Wind power delivers cheaper power bills because it is by far the cheapest way to get more power into the country’s failing system and the costs of doing so continue to fall."
Victoria's Stockyard Hill wind farm and Silverton in New South Wales will pump out power for $55 and $65 a megawatt hour (MWh) for 25 years from 2019, according to the AWA. In comparison, combined cycle gas stations cost $74 - 90/MWh to build, solar $78 - 140/MWh and ultra-supercritical coal $134-293/MWh.
"On top of all this, wind energy is a reliable tool Australia can use to drastically cut pollution and fend off more heatwaves, storms, bushfires and floods," Bray said.
The Prime Minister and Federal Energy Minister have both stated they'll impose "technology agnostic" energy policies.
"'Technology neutral' energy policy is code for we're putting off the tough decisions. Why bend over backwards to keep coal and gas in the game when we know they are the most expensive and dirtiest options? Being neutral on this is being gutless: saying no to wind energy is saying no to smaller power bills and meeting our climate commitments," Bray says.
"The ACT Government's reverse auction scheme has shown how being brave and backing key technologies can quickly and easily bring down prices."
Just 5 per cent of Australia's power is currently sourced from wind, despite the country having one of the world's best wind resources, says the AWA. Bray says renewable energy is already providing reliable energy in countries across the globe, at much higher rates.
"Much of what gas and coal can do, wind and solar can do with batteries and pumped hydro – only cheaper. Even when you add in the cost of storage, wind is cheaper than gas-fired power."