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Wind Energy

Harnessing wind power

Wind is one of the cheapest renewable energy options in Western Australia and the state has an excellent wind resource. Wind energy is a renewable resource which has the following benefits:

  • It is a sustainable and inexhaustible energy source
  • It does not produce emissions that contribute to the greenhouse effect
  • It allows remote communities to be more independent for their energy needs
  • Wind turbines produce high quality electricity.

By the end of 2003 there was over 40,000MW of wind turbines installed worldwide and it is one of the fastest growing electricity sources in the world in terms of installations. Yearly investment in wind energy now exceeds many billions of dollars worldwide and this is because the price of wind turbines has dropped dramatically since the early 1990s, and the technology is now mature.

What is a wind turbine?

A wind turbine is a machine that takes kinetic energy in the wind and converts it to electricity through the action of blades connected to a generator. A wind turbine usually has three or less blades and turns quickly, which is different to a windmill which can have up to forty blades and turns more slowly to grind grain or pump water.

Use of wind turbines

In Perth, the testing of wind turbines to harness the wind to produce electricity began in 1978 on Rottnest Island and South Fremantle. In the development of wind power, remote communities which rely on diesel fuel for electricity generation were targeted. This is because the cost of diesel generation is high. Wind turbines in the right conditions can be commercially competitive. In some places of the world, wind can also be competitive with large-scale coal and gas generation on big grid systems, mostly where government policy supports the use of wind turbines in recognition of their environmental benefits.

Australian government legislation (The Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000) placed a legal liability on electricity retailers to proportionately contribute towards the generation of an additional 9500GWh of renewable energy per year by 2010. This focussed power producer Western Power, and now Verve Energy, on looking at renewable energy sources on our larger grids to meet our share of this Mandated Renewable Energy Target (MRET). A number of prime sites within Western Australia for the installation of large wind farms were identified. Private wind farm developers have also proposed a number of wind farms in WA as a result of the MRET legislation.

Verve Energy works hard with the communities who live with wind farms, to ensure that they are happy with the installations and understand the reasons why they are built. By working hard and planning correctly, Verve Energy has learnt how to build and run wind farms which are economic and environmental assets to Western Australia.