Originally written by BILL MELDRUM
THE renewable energy sector is
eying Portland as a possible site for
a national centre for excellence in
an attempt to attract and upgrade the
skills of energy professionals.
Pacific Hydo corporate and
government affairs executive manager
Andrew Richards said briefings on
establishing a centre had been made
to Federal Environment Minister
Malcolm Turnbull and the Victorian
Mr Richards was in Portland on
Monday to present funding to several
volunteer organisations as part of the
firm’s sustainable communities fund.
“There is a definite shortage
in Australia of highly qualified
professionals who have the skills
required to work in the wind, solar,
geothermal, or wave energy fields,”
“Every time we develop a new
project, we have to bring in engineers
from overseas, and it is a real
“If, as an example, Federal Labor win
the pending election, its renewable
energy policy and targets will trigger
an explosion of wind farm projects.
“In western Victoria and the southeast
of South Australia for wind farms
alone there will be a 1000 megawatt
to 1200 megawatt capacity, especially
when you are talking about the area
around Lake Bonney.”
Mr Richards said the need to train
people to work in the industry was
highlighted at a recent renewable
energy conference in Melbourne.
“This nation has plenty of people
skilled in coal-fired plants, but the
skills required for solar and wave
are totally different and new in this
country,” he said.
“I would imagine businesses such as
Keppel Prince would welcome with
open arms the establishment of such
Meanwhile, the economics of wind
farms have been questioned by
business columnist Terry McCrann,
in the metropolitan media.
He referred to recent announcements
by AGL to spend $166 million on a
new wind farm with a capacity of 71
megawatts in South Australia’s midnorth,
and the opening of the Xstrata-
APA $38 million 30 megawatts gasfired
power plant at Mount Isa.
He said the comparative cost of
the wind farm, taking in the higher
figure of the average 18 to 33 per cent
operating power generation of wind
farms was six times greater then the
“Denmark has the biggest wind
power base of any country in the
world, getting half its electricity from
that source,” he said.
“But at times, it gets zero from wind
– it then has to bring in power from
Norway, Sweden and Germany.
“So when Denmark demands what is
a huge amount of power in its terms ,
with very little warning, the drain is
tiny on its combined neighbours.”
He said Australia did not have a
“nice” Germany as a neighbour.