Wednesday 22 October 2014

South Aust renewable energy plan wins praise

WIND TURBINE FARM

There’s been praise from the renewable energy sector for new wind farm rules that have been introduced in South Australia, which the Labor state government says could unlock billions of dollars in investment.

Wind farm developments are likely to be kept away from populated areas in South Australia under the new rules, but the government also expects the rules will bring in a possible $1.8 billion in investment.

The state government has announced a renewable energy plan that also bans the establishment of any new coal-fired power stations.

Clean Energy Council policy director Russell Marsh said the changes would give the industry confidence.

“There has been a lot of uncertainty because of court cases that have been running for some of the development proposals,” he said.

“The announcement makes it more certain for the industry in terms of the progress of planning developments in South Australia.

“Now wind turbine developers will effectively be going though the local council, whereas before they were using the State Government process that had no real community engagement.”

Tabling the plan in state parliament, Premier Mike Rann said with South Australia having more than half of Australia’s wind farm investment, the state had a national responsibility to take the lead on policies that protected the interests of both the industry and local communities.

Local councils will also become the key authority for assessing planning applications for new wind farms.

“These policies and the processes for implementing them will skew investment away from populated areas, while giving greater certainty and consistency to wind farm investors,” Urban Development Minister John Rau said.

Under the plan, no wind turbines will be allowed within one kilometre of any home, unless both the home owner and the developer agree to a shorter distance.

So far about $2.8 billion has been invested in wind power in South Australia, creating more than 3000 direct and indirect jobs.

Wind power accounts for 21 per cent of all electricity generated across the state, compared to just one per cent in 2004.

Premier Rann said it was estimated $1.8 million in further wind farm investment was on hold, waiting for the release of the government’s revised renewable energy guidelines.

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