THE potential for renewable energy in south west Victoria should be capitalised on to combat climate change according to the Climate Change Commission. The commission’s latest report says the current number of installed wind turbines only captures a fraction of the potential wind energy available in the state, specifically just east of Portland, where average wind speeds are some of the highest in the state. The report compares the state’s wind sector with Denmark’s which has seven times the installed onshore wind capacity in areas with similar wind speeds. Wind energy contributes to 43 per cent of the state’s renewable energy sector but solar power only 8 per cent, despite Victoria receiving enough energy from the sun to produce double the state’s energy needs recorded in 2009-10, the report says. “Due to increasing investment and uptake, the cost of solar panels has reduced by around 70 per cent over the past two years and is projected to fall further,” the report says. “In fact, electricity generated from solar PV panels has been estimated to already be cheaper than retail electricity prices in some areas of Australia and is projected to be competitively priced in the next few years.” While the greatest potential for solar power is in the state’s north west, Keppel Prince Engineering solar systems projects manager Peter Reefman said the technology was still beneficial in and around Portland. Read more in Wednesday’s edition of the Portland Observer.