Renewable energy will replace coal

Renewable energy will be ready to take the place of coal. That was the message from Australian Wind Alliance who spoke out on Wednesday after several days of debate about the future of our electricity supplies.

Energy supplier AGL was planning to shut down its Liddell coal-fired power plant in 2022, but has come under pressure from the federal government this week to keep it open, or sell it to another operator.

It follows the National Party voting at its national conference last weekend to remove all subsidies for renewable energy providers over a five-year period and to freeze them at their current level for the next year.

While that may, or may not, happen, the Australian Wind Alliance labelled it political madness yesterday, saying wind and solar farms, including those in our region, had the capacity to replace Liddell. It’s of interest to our region because of the role we now have in the future of supplying electricity to the grid via wind farms and solar farms that are being constructed.

The alliance said 3600 megawatts of new wind and solar farms were ready to play their part in replacing the 1680 MW capacity of Liddell power station when it closes.

Metz Solar Park near Armidale has been approved for construction, and it will deliver 100MW. It is one of 17 approved solar farms across NSW.

There are three wind farms near Glen Innes. White Rock will deliver 122 MW, and the Glen Innes Wind Farm being developed by Nexif will add a further 75 MW. Sapphire Wind Farm will deliver 270 MW.

Barnaby Joyce (third from left) inspects Sapphire Wind Farm.

Barnaby Joyce (third from left) inspects Sapphire Wind Farm.

National coordinator of the Australian Wind Alliance, Andrew Bray said more than 1000 MW of wind and solar were being built in NSW with a further 2600 MW of projects approved and ready to go.

“Cheap renewables combined with modern solutions like batteries and demand management will keep the system reliable and lower power bills,” Mr Bray said.

He said the government’s inability to put politics aside and support the transition to clean energy is the real reason much of the country risks blackouts this summer.

The wind farm developments have been positive for our community. As Barnaby Joyce said in July, between all the renewable projects going ahead there is in excess of $1 billion invested in our region.

With the renewables industry growing, the worst response to spiralling energy bills and a fragile system would be to prop up an old clunker like Liddell.