- JoNova - https://www.joannenova.com.au -

Robbins Island Mega wind farm: killing birds and baseload power at 300 kilometers per hour

After nearly two weeks the ABC carrier pigeons finally brought the news that Bob Brown, former Greens leader, is campaigning against this gigantic wind farm — the $1.6b one in NW Tasmania that wants to be the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. Could it be the ABC doesn’t want to admit they were wrong too, pushing wind power non stop for years?

Look how erratic that wind is — 90% one day, zero the next

Tom Quirk looked at the nearest wind farm to Robbins Island, and it’s a fitful machine (see that graph below). Worse, it fails in synchrony with most wind farms in Australia. Thus exacerbating the unstable, fickle supply of wind energy.

 Tom Quirk predicts the demise of another coal plant

Quirk was Deputy Chairman of VENCorp, which managed the transmission and wholesale natural gas market and system planning for the electricity market in Victoria, Australia.

A wind farm on Robbins Island will simply extend the variations in power supplied to the mainland while making no difference to the correlations of wind through the states in the wholesale market. Thus more backup would be required from gas and hydro sources. Loy Yang B with 1,000 MW would clearly become uneconomic to operate since more wind farms are also planned for Victoria…


Woolworth Wind Farm, Tasmania, Output, June 2019, Graph.

Woolworth Wind Farm, Tasmania, Output, June 2019,   Data source   anero.id/energy

 The proposed 400 to 1,000 MW Robbins Island wind farm is at the North West of Tasmania close to the 140 MW Woolnorth wind farm. The capacity factor for Woolnorth is shown below. The behaviour of the Robbins Island wind farm should be the same with a capacity factor varying from 0 to 90%.

If it’s built, it will make good money for the American owners on the days it works, but make electricity more expensive for Australians. The awkward truth is that, barring freak accidents, its power arrives exactly when Australians don’t need it — when they have an excess from every other wind farm and a steady reliable baseload supply working just fine that must sit around, waiting for the wind to ebb, while it has bills to pay.

Like other windfarms it will help drive the cheap baseload off the grid, and leave Australians footing the bill for high cost peaking replacements.

With turbines moving at 300 km an hour it’ll be the apex predator —  death to avians too.

Whats the difference between and ABC reporter and a PR writer? PR writers are more honest.

They don’t pretend to be journalists.

The ABC headlines Bob Browns opposition as “the height of hypocrisy” — which it is, but hey, at least there’s a point where he admits the truth. Shame he didn’t speak up sooner.

Carrington Clarke of the ABC gives free advertising to an industry, interviews no critics and does no research. Watch the pea, the word “average” is used to bury the bad-news variability. This sounds like it could be from a prospectus for UPC:

“We have an absolutely stellar, solid, low turbulence, high average wind speed around the 36 kilometres an hour average, which in my experience is some of the best in the world,” UPC chief operating officer David Pollington said.

“Best” in this case being “best for the owners”, bad for Australians. For about a quarter of the entire month of June the output was between ten percent of capacity and “zero”.

The average buries the bad news on prices too:

Mr Pollington argues projects like Robbins Island are good news for consumers in Tasmania and on the mainland. “We’re confident that we can produce energy at a lower rate than is currently the average price in the market,” Mr Pollington said. “So we should be helping depress the price of electricity for consumers.”

It’s hardly an achievement if wind turbines can make electricity cheaper than the “average” record high prices we pay now. In any case, it’s the effect on the whole system that matters, not the cherry-picked five-minute bids for wholesalers on windy days. The average retail price paid by consumers is what matters and the more wind we get, the higher it is. If wind farms “depressed” the price (rather than the consumer) there might be a country on Earth which has cheaper electricity since it built wind farms. There isn’t.

Tom Quirk looks at the erratic synchronicity of wind power of the national grid:

 Wind power supplied is an example of state by state wind correlations that reflect the reach of the weather systems in the Australian eastern region.

Total wind power contribution to the wholesale electricity market

Total wind farm output Australia, June 2019, Graph.

Total wind farm output Australia, June 2019 |    Data source   anero.id/energy

The capacity factor is the energy produced as a percentage of the maximum output of a wind farm. The total capacity factor is the weighted average of all wind farms.   The capacity factor is a useful way of showing the correlations in wind energy supply from the state regions.

The figures below show strong correlations for Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia with lesser correlation for New South Wales and Queensland.

Wind farms, Australia, combined output, June 2019. Graph.

Wind farms, Australia, combined output, June 2019.  Data source   anero.id/energy

There are 55 wind farms on the National Electricity Market in the Eastern States: 2 wind farms in Tasmania and Queensland,  22 in South Australia,  17 in Victoria,  and  12 in NSW. Those graphs for June 2019 for each state up close:

 NSW Wind powerVIC Wind power QLD Wind power   |  Tas Wind power  |  SA Wind power |

Sometimes all 55 wind farms are useless.

What about the birds?

Here’s one of the great whitewash lines of PR by the ABC:

UPC’s Mr Pollington says the company has been working with experts to ensure the wind farm is designed to minimise the impact on birds.

What does minimize even mean? They’ll make choices that kill less birds as long as it doesn’t cost much. The way to minimize the impact is to not build it in the first place.

Graham Lloyd, The Australian, reports on the terrible toll, and reveals useless forward estimates, Bob Brown, and minimization are:

…AGL’s Macarthur wind farm in Victoria is a good example of how expert reports can be wrong and conditions difficult to enforce.

Local farmer and bird lover Hamish Cumming has been raising the alarm for almost a decade. In September 2014, he wrote to all federal MPs: “The AGL Macarthur wind farm is slaughtering raptors at an alarming rate and no one seems to care, especially the Greens.” He asked Brown for help: “Dear Bob, I think the Greens in Victoria (and nationally) have forgotten what they are supposed to be protecting,” he wrote. “They refuse to help me make AGL adhere to their permit conditions just because they are a wind farm.” Cumming says he got no reply.

When the Macarthur wind farm was approved, AGL estimated it would kill two birds per turbine a year. However, post construction monitoring showed the project was killing 13.4 birds per turbine a year, more than six times the pre-construction estimate. The AGL permit application claimed a raptor kill of three a year across the wind farm, yet a post-construction report estimates a kill of 430 raptors a year, 30 per cent of bird deaths at the wind farm.

The experience in northern California is an 80 per cent decline in golden eagles numbers with none nesting near the Altamont facility, although it is a prime habitat.


In comments on the last Robbins Island thread one Prof Mike Tarburton suggested smaller wind turbines could save the vulnerable birds:

The best solution to this conflict is to use different types of Wind Turbines that would not kill birds. There are at least 4 types of smaller wind turbines on the internet that will not kill any birds. That they are smaller would mean that they would be easier to transport to Robbins island. One of the birds I research, the White-throated Needletail is the main species being killed at a wind farm near Robbins island, in spite of it being one of the fastest birds in the world. Because it flies all day it is going to pass many wind farms and risk being killed. Two weeks ago the Australian Government accepted my application and declared this species as Vulnerable.

Also near Robbins island, Short-tailed Shearwaters or Muttonbirds are also being killed by wind farms of the same type that are used across Australia. Which politician has shares in this company. Lets solve the problem by using the types that will generate cheap electricity and do not kill birds.

Prof Mike Tarburton.

Likely this is Prof. Mike Tarburton, “retired” from Dean of School of Science & Technology, Pacific Adventist University, Papua New Guinea. His website is  Swifts of the World.

Turbines are going to get bigger, so Prof Tarburton, bird specialist, is effectively telling us that things for birds are going to get much worse. Sadly, the awful bird toll will get more awful.

Smaller turbines might save the birds, which is a good thing, but they still make grid-wrecking, job-destroying electricity that makes the entire network more inefficient and more expensive. And presumably small turbines must be more expensive per Watt than large turbines or the profit making corporations wouldn’t be building the biggest ones they can get approval for.

Lets save birds and jobs and keep the heating and lights on.

The slaughter of birds is severe,
And from habitats some disappear,
When a single wind-farm,
Can do terrible harm,
Killing hundreds of raptors a year.

— Jo

h/t David B, Pat, George.

Data source   anero.id/energy     from Andrew Miskelly

9.7 out of 10 based on 71 ratings