Oct 13, 2011

The web of vested interests behind the anti-wind farm lobby

A network analysis of links between the principal voices involved in demonising wind farms in Australia has been circulating in recent weeks and reveals connections between some of the principal wind farm opponents.

Following a July investigation by environmental correspondent Sandi Keane , a network analysis of links between the principal voices involved in demonising wind farms in Australia has been circulating in recent weeks. The network diagram shows connections between some of the principal individuals who have been vocal in opposing wind farm development in Australia, several organisations that are at the forefront of the opposition, the Institute of Public Affairs and its love-child the Australian Environment Foundation and the Victorian Liberal Party. In August, the Baillieu government announced it would be amending legislation to require all wind turbines to be sited further than two kilometres from any residence.  The push is now on to get the NSW O’Farrell government do the same thing. The decision effectively guts the wind industry’s immediate prospects of further development in Victoria with wind industry insiders predicting that money will rush into South Australia, where already 21% of the state’s energy is sourced from wind.

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135 thoughts on “The web of vested interests behind the anti-wind farm lobby

  1. Ian McKendry

    Good to see detailed and well-researched commentary on the frothing dishonesty of the anti wind farm lobby. Such ‘tell it like it is’ refuting of the mystical rubbish solemnly put forward by the anti brigade is surprisingly rare. Yes, of course it is mainly the usual Australian whining and NIMBY-ism at play yet again, however disguised as pseudo- science.

    The most hilarious example was on display on 7.30 last night. Suffocatingly self-righteous farmers in opposition to a wind farm because the sheep are sensitive creatures and it will affect the quality of the wool! Spare me. Of course, it does also leave open the judgement of the producers of 7.30 in seeing the story as interesting or newsworthy. Maybe they saw it as beautiful satire – you certainly couldn’t make this stuff up.

    Ian McKendry

  2. Russell

    No matter how worthy” such investigations are, they are besides the point. You will never be able to “debunk” the opposition, because it defies rationality. Similarly the Four Corners program a free months ago, which spent a lot of time trying to rubbish the claims that the turbines caused “headaches.”

    Interesting, but irrelevant..

    The real problem here is the Nimby-ism which is rampant through the inner city urban area of Australia, and now the rural regions as well You will never defeat their issues with argument, the selfish, emotionalism behind it is totally impenetrable to reason.

    The rise of Nimby-ism in the cities has been fostered and is encouraged by the Greens. In fact they campaign constantly on Nimby issues. At the recent Sydney Film Festival screening of a movie called “Windfall” about the impact of a wind farm on an upstate New York community, I was struck by how the opponents of the turbines were all what we would call “greenie” tree-changers.

    Affluent, educated, articulate environmental activists. Just like the ones protesting CSG in the inner city now.

    Those who signed up for turbines on their properties all needed the income. The film wryly noted that in the more affluent neighbouring communities, wind farms didn’t even get past first base.

  3. Mark Duffett

    “…tying one hand behind its back on the path to a greener economy…”

    You’d better hope metaphors aren’t covered by the Geneva Convention, because that’s torture.

    Wind farms aren’t evil, they’re just not all that useful: bravenewclimate.com/2011/05/21/co2-avoidance-cost-wind/. There are fundamental reasons why a point of diminishing returns is hit very rapidly once a given power grid tries to go above a ceiling of about 20% contribution from the things.

  4. Modus Ponens

    What is most interesting is that those who received rental payments for the turbines never suffer from any symptoms that those who receive no payments do.

    It would be interesting if neighbouring property owners were entitled to small royalty payments, whether the anxiety induced headaches and blood pressure would be alleviated…?

  5. Steven Warren

    From what I have seen in reports your claims that SA “sources” 21% of their power from wind may be a little bit of a furphy.

    21% of their capacity may be wind (which would be fairly close to it’s coal capacity) yet while practically all of their coal would be purchased, a large percentage of that wind wouldn’t.

    In 2005-2006 back when 10% of SA’s capacity was wind, they actually purchased no wind power generation at all (or at least a statistically insignificant amount).

    With the price parity effect of the ETS it is more likely they will use wind power now, but having the capacity to use something is not the same as actually using it.

    This just reinforces your point more not less though.

  6. Richard Mackie

    response to Mark Duffet:
    The Brave New Climate article you reference is widely acknowledged as based on an attack on wind by the Idependant Petroleum Association based in Colarado. They make some rather outlandish claims and baseless assertions about fossil fuel generator ramp-rates. The web site also rather fairly published a response to the article you referenced. Look here: http://bravenewclimate.com/2010/09/01/wind-power-emissions-counter/
    The reality is a similar result to what we found in South Australia. Look here: http://www.windlab.com/sites/default/files/20110915_SouthAustralianWindPower_DO_LHO.pdf
    Wind farms directly displace fossil fuel use (wind wind is blowing coal or gas is not being burned) but also, pushes the dirty plant (old coal) out of the system first. Wind has shown to actually reduce emissions more than first thought.

    response to Steven Warren:
    Your comments don’t make sense. All power produced in the National Electricity Market is bought by someone.
    As well as being 21% of nameplate capacity, we found that wind in South Australia also produced about 21% of the energy last year. This means the capacity factor of the wind farms is about the same as the capacity factor of the rest of the system. Wind energy works.

  7. Captain Planet

    20 % is a pretty useful contribution, Mark.

  8. Dan Cass

    Great piece, Simon. There are fascinating connections there and I’m keen to see if any more information comes to light….

    I’m very disappointed by the NHMRC’s response to this furphy. When the NHMRC ran a consultation on this issue recently, it was structured as an equal argument – half science that Simon describes and half the pseudo-science of the Waubra Foundation.

    The only MP invited was Alby Shultz (Lib, NSW). It is absurd to have Alby at a forum on the science of health because he is anti science. He has described climate science as Nazi science.

  9. David Clarke

    I happen to know Sarah Laurie. We both live at Crystal Brook, a small SA country town; when she was practicing she was, for a time, my GP. I believe she is sincere and well meaning, but badly mistaken and being used by the Landscape Guardians.

    There are people who believe wind turbines make them ill. Lots of them have told their tales to Dr Laurie. Fair enough. But there is no evidence that it is the turbines that cause the illness; all the evidence that I’ve seen points to anxiety and fear. And unfortunately Dr Laurie is increasing that.

    If anyone doubts the 20% plus that wind power contributes to SA’s power I suggest that they read ElectraNet’s SA Annual Planning Report, 2011. Which also says that “Studies show that the existing transmission network has the capacity to enable up to approximately 2300 MW of wind generation in South Australia before generation exceeds regional demand and interconnector export capacity.” That is, about double what it is now.

  10. Stevo the Working Twistie

    Aren’t the executives of big mining and oil and traditional power companies allowed to care for the little birdies and struggling farmers? “We’re behind you all the way in stopping these ghastly, unnatural wind turbines. By the way, do you have room for a fracking plant on the south paddock?”

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