Energy

Australia Considers Banning Wind Power Because It’s Causing Blackouts

An Australian politician is calling for a ban on new wind farms and wants to slash their subsidies because they increase the risks of blackouts, according to an article in The Australian newspaper.

Liberal Party Sen. Chris Back said excessive reliance on wind turbines was driving incredibly high electricity prices and serious blackout risks in South Australia. South Australia is experiencing a power crisis as the last reliable coal power plants are shuttered in favor of wind. Back has formally called for a moratorium on new turbines pending a cost-­benefit analysis of the effect of the wind industry on the country.

“There should be no further subsidies paid for an intermittent and unreliable power source that can be seen as a proven failure. There are solutions to our climate challenges but wind power is not one of them,” Back told The Australian.

The power crisis in South Australia has caused the price of electricity to spike to 200 cents per kilowatt-hour of power Friday. The average Australian pays about 25 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity, according to research by the country’s parliament. Major businesses in South Australia have already threatened to suspend operations entirely until the price of power comes down. The average American only spends 10.4 cents per kilowatt-hour of power.

Household electricity prices in Australia have risen by more than 40 percent between 2007 and 2012, the same period when the government offered lucrative wind subsidies. Power prices in Australian states with a lot of wind power are almost double the rates in other states.

Australia’s reliance on wind power risks damaging the country’s power grid because the amount of electricity generated by a wind turbine is very intermittent and doesn’t coincide with the times of day when power is most needed. This poses an enormous safety challenge to grid operators and makes power grids vastly more fragile.

Other Pacific nations are cutting back and outright banning wind power due to the risk of blackouts. China has already ordered wind operators to stop expanding four times in the last five years, because unreliable wind power was damaging the country’s power grid and costing the government enormous amounts of money. The best areas for wind turbines in China are far away from the coastal provinces where most of its population lives. Building the infrastructure to transmit wind energy over long distances is expensive and could cost many times the price of generating the electricity.

China is already wasting enough wind energy to power Great Britain, according to an article published earlier this month by a green think tank.

The Chinese government stopped approving new wind power projects in the country’s windiest regions in early March, according to China’s National Energy Administration statement. These regions previously installed nearly 71 gigawatts of wind turbines, more than the rest of China combined. A single gigawatt of electricity is enough to power 700,000 homes. Government statistics show that 33.9 billion kilowatt-hours of wind-power, or about 15 percent of all Chinese wind power, was wasted in 2015 alone.

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