201111

Wind Farms and Tourism

According to the Wind Energy Association there are no Australian studies to substantiate the claim that wind farms will harm tourism. On the contrary, polls and anecdotal evidence in Australia indicate the opposite may be true: wind farms are more likely to attract tourists.

In 2001, a poll in Victoria asked respondents: “Specifically thinking about the tourism impact of building windmills would you be more or less likely to visit a coastal area for a holiday or day trip if there were electricity generating windmills in the area?”. The results showed that that 36% of respondents were more likely to visit a coastal area if it had a wind farm, while 55% said it would make no difference. Only 8% said it would deter them from visiting.

Hundreds of thousands of people visit Australian wind farms each year. Here are some examples of tourist numbers visiting wind farms in high value coastal regions in Australia, as taken from the Wind Energy Association website:

Codrington, Victoria: The Codrington wind farm currently attracts 50,000 visitors per year. For those who want to stop and take a look, a tour company has been specifically set up to meet tourism demands, and site tours are run up to six times a week.

Woolnorth, Tasmania: Hydro Tasmania has contracted tour operator Woolnorth Tours to conduct one hour, half-day and full day tours of the wind farm. The then Liberal leader Rene Hidding called upon the Tasmania government to push for wind farm tourism, and to establish a Centre for Excellence in Renewable Energy and Visitor Interpretation Site near the wind farm, which “would become a major drawcard for the region and capitalise on increased visitor arrivals on the Spirit of Tasmania vessels,” according to Mr. Hidding, who also added, “this wind farm has the potential to be a ‘must see’ tourism attraction…”

Esperance, WA: The Salmon Beach (recently closed) and Ten Mile Lagoon wind farms were visited by about 50,000 people each year. Although wind farms have been in operation in the region for over 20 years, visitor numbers have not declined over time.

Albany, WA: According to the city’s economic development manager, John Berry, traffic counters suggest about 100,000 people visited the wind farm last year. The site has “the potential to be a premier WA tourism icon based on the sheer size of the structures and magnificent coastal setting…”

It is fair enough to be concerned about the visual impact of wind farms. It seems unreasonable to complain about their impact on tourism.
Matthew Nott

Big ambitions for Tathra

Next year’s Tathra Enduro Mountain Bike Race will be held on the weekend of 21/22 April 2012. Once again there will be a kids race, a 10km prologue, and a 20,50 and 100km event through some of the best mountain bike tracks the country has to offer. We are hoping to double the size of the event next year, with all proceeds going towards renewable energy projects for community buildings in Tathra.

Next years event will raise money for solar panels for the Tathra pre school, solar panels for the Star of the Sea Church, and a wind turbine for the Tathra Hall. Any extra money will go towards increasing the solar array on the Tathra Surf Club. So far, community buildings already set up with renewable energy in Tathra include the Tathra Surf Club, the Rural Fire Brigade, the Uniting Church and the St Martins by the Sea church.

Next year every community building in Tathra will be set up with renewable energy as the town moves towards its goal of 50/50 by 2020.

In following years the Tathra Enduro will be looking to raise money for bigger projects like medium sized wind turbines and solar farms.

Tathra is well placed to assume a leadership role in adapting to climate change. The rewards will be great.
Matthew Nott

Drought slowly breaking for clean energy in Australia

Renewable energy provided almost 10% of Australia’s electricity in the last 12 months, according to a report released overnight at the UN climate negotiations in Durban.

The 2011 Clean Energy Australia report, produced by the Clean Energy Council, also found that more than half a million household solar power systems were now installed on Australian rooftops ? around 35 times the amount just three years ago at the end of 2008.

Over one million Australians now live in a solar household. Solar power has come of age and is now a real part of Australia’s energy sector.

Clean Energy Council Director Kane Thornton said the report confirms Australia is well on the way to achieving the 20% renewable energy target.

Key findings from the report include:

* Renewable energy produced 9.6% of Australia ?s electricity in the 12 months from 1 October 2010 to 30 September 2011.

* Hydro accounted for 67% of the total.

* As of August 2011, 1031 MW of solar power was installed in Australia representing more than 500,000 household systems. More than 230,000 of these were installed between January and August this year.

* Investment figures from Bloomberg New Energy Finance show that the Australian clean energy market was worth $5.2 billion in the 2010-11 financial year.

* More than 8000 people are directly employed in the installation, construction and maintenance of clean energy assets, but this doesn?t include thousands more who are employed in administration, project management, sales, etc.

With acknowledgment to the Clean Energy Council for the information contained herein

The solar industry is worth supporting. A 1:1 national Feed-in-Tariff is fair and reasonable. It will support an emerging solar industry in Australia and will NOT put a burden on electricity prices.
Matthew Nott