The role of wind power in New South Wales

Institute for Sustainable Futures
Publication Type:
2007, pp. 1 - 72
Issue Date:
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The need for Australia, and New South Wales, to greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avoid dangerous climate change is now well established. One of the biggest challenges will be to rapidly stabilise and then reduce emissions associated with electricity generation. In NSW, electricity generation alone accounts for 37% of total emissions (Australian Greenhouse Office 2007) and these emissions have grown rapidly since 1990. One technology that shows great promise as a way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation is wind power. Globally, the use of wind power is growing rapidly due to its low cost relative to other renewable energy sources, the abundance of global wind resources, the maturity of the technology and its low lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions. It has been estimated that wind power could supply as much as 29% of global electricity needs by 2030 (GWEC & Greenpeace 2006). However, in NSW, there are only four wind farms, supplying much less than 1% of our electricity generation. The development of wind power in NSW has been hindered by a lack of consistent government support at the Federal and State levels and by community resistance to particular wind farm proposals. This report aims to provide balanced material on the benefits of wind farms, criticisms of wind farms and the ways that wind farm development might be improved to respond to community concerns. What is wind power? Wind contains a lot of energy and the energy increases rapidly with wind speed. To capture this energy, the modern wind industry uses wind turbines. A typical wind turbine consists of a tower and foundation, supporting a nacelle (a housing for a gearbox and generator) and a rotor with three specially shaped blades. When the wind passes over the blades, their shape creates pressure differences and causes the rotor to turn. The rotor is attached to the generator, which creates electricity.
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