Australia & New Zealand - Coalition goverment to review renewables

AUSTRALIA: There was a certain irony in the timing. For two weeks a coal mine in Victoria state had been blazing out of control, pumping class one carcinogens into the air and forcing local residents from their homes.

Senvion has received approval for its 600MW Ceres project
Senvion has received approval for its 600MW Ceres project

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That was the moment Australia's new federal government announced it would commission (yet) more research into possible links between wind farms and human health.

The centre-right coalition government elected last autumn is also undertaking a review into the country's renewable energy target (RET) scheme, which calls for 45,000GWh to be sourced from renewables by 2020. The review, part of the administration's aim to cut business costs, will investigate "the economic, environmental and social impacts of the RET scheme". Government ministers have recommended that the target should be cut, or the deadline extended.

But Australia's renewable energy trade association, the Clean Energy Council (CEC), remains upbeat about winning the war against wind. The health links have been investigated many times before and come up with nothing and all opinion polling indicates widespread support for wind power across the population.

Australia added 630MW of installed capacity in 2013, bringing its total to 3,195MW. Senvion Australia has gained approval for its 600MW Ceres project near Adelaide in South Australia state. Scheduled for commissioning by 2016, it will be the biggest wind farm in the southern hemisphere.

New Zealand added no new wind capacity in 2013, its cumulative total sticking at around 620MW. There is around 1,700MW in the pipeline of 14 consented projects, but little demand to drive progress. The 60MW Mill Creek project near Wellington is the only new project under construction, due online in late 2014.

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