The release of the Victorian Wind Atlas has been welcomed by green groups as a key step in developing the state’s wind industry.
By highlighting areas to develop wind farms throughout the state, the atlas would provide a boost to regional economies, ultimately helping to combat greenhouse emissions, said the state’s peak conservation body Environment Victoria (EV).
“The Victorian Government is to be commended for making the wind atlas freely and openly available – to industry, rural communities and councils – to help harness wind energy,” said Darren Gladman, EV global warming campaign director.
“The data shows Victoria has world-class windy sites with many opportunities for wind farms to be built. This is an industry that has a bias for regional areas, which are usually at a disadvantage to cities.”
Mr Gladman said the wind atlas, designed using CSIRO technology, provided an insight into the factors that made successful wind farms, such as wind speed, access to the electricity network and natural features.
“There are so many factors that impact on a potential wind farm. For example Mt Baw Baw might have the best wind speeds in the state but the reality is it’s not viable because it’s on public land, far from the grid, too high with too many trees.”
Mr Gladman said the environmental benefits from wind farms were clear.
“Victoria is one of the world’s worst greenhouse polluters because of our reliance on brown coal – the grottiest fossil fuel – for electricity production,” he said.
“Scientists tell us that, thanks to humans, greenhouse emissions are increasing and that is leading to global warming. In Victoria this translates to more bushfires, less water, more drought and a diminishing snow line.
“Every megawatt of wind power generated goes towards reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and the risk of global warming.”
He added that developers still needed to consider regional habitats, animal species and the needs of nearby communities when choosing wind farm sites.
“In order to make a successful wind industry the atlas needs to be followed with state-wide planning, such as noise standards, bird monitoring and landscape assessment.”