Fossil fuel energy is outdated
There is an enormous amount documented on the adverse affects on human health through the exploration, production and/or use of oil, gas, coal and their derivative energy sources. The old and the young are at particular risk. Air pollution alone is linked to chronic respiratory disease, lung cancer, heart disease, and damage to the brain, nerves, liver and kidneys. Additional costs to human health from fossil-fuel fired electricity in the US alone have recently been estimated at USD $886 billion annually (Machol, 2012).
Renewable means sustainable prosperity
Clean energy means good health. Replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy has been found to reduce premature mortality and lost workdays, and it reduces overall healthcare costs. “The increased use of renewable energy, especially wind, solar and photovoltaic energy, will have positive health benefits, some of which have been estimated.” (Menne & Markandya, 2004, p. 77)
Wind energy benefits the community
No Australian nor international medical nor scientific body has found any evidence of significant health risks associated with wind turbine generators. “The ExternE Project considered wind energy to have the lowest level of impacts (health and environmental), of all the fuel cycles considered.” (Menne, 2004, p. 100)
The technology to deliver fossil fuel energy demonstrates inefficient use of resources and the market economy. Roughly two-thirds of the fuel burned to generate electricity is lost in the generation and delivery process. That is, our electric power system operates at approximately 33 percent efficiency. There has been no improvement in efficiency in the electric power industry since the 1960s. Source: galvinpower.org
The technology supplying energy from renewable resources is cutting edge. Additionally, in order to compete with heavily subsidised fossil fuel energy which externalises (does not account for) significant costs, renewable energy technology demonstrates both rising efficiency and falling costs. A 2012 United Nations Environment Program report states photovoltaic module prices fell by close to 50%, and onshore wind turbine prices by between 5% and 10%.
Since 2008, wind turbine prices have fallen 29%. Best of all, the cost is mostly upfront with only modest maintenance costs thereafter. The fuel is free! Once commissioned, Flyers Creek will generate clean energy to be fed directly into the local grid. Using distributed energy technology, electricity generated locally reduces peak demands on the wider network. In addition, due to unavoidable losses in the network, every kWh we generate locally displaces the need for an estimated 1.1 kWh to be generated elsewhere and distributed here.
Economic investment through training and employment opportunities in the fossil fuel industry no longer compares favourably to that of renewable energy generation. A 2009 update of a 2004 study from the University of Berkeley, California reports ‘all non-fossil fuel technologies (renewable energy, energy efficiency, low carbon) create more jobs per unit energy than coal and natural gas.’
As economic investment in renewable energy escalates, local and international employment and training opportunities increase. In 2012, developing nations spent $112 billion ($67 billion by China, the world’s biggest investor) while industrialised nations spent $132 billion ($4.2 billion in Australia). 24,300 people are employed in clean energy nationally. Employment and training opportunities exist now in central NSW.
NSW Government Office of Environment and Heritage estimates strong policy (like their Renewable Energy Action Plan and the federal Renewable Energy Target) with economic investment will create 1,713 new clean energy jobs in the Central Tablelands in the next 15 years, including 200 permanent positions in wind energy.
Issues of landscape degradation, water usage and land use competition with farming all weigh against fossil fuel extraction and energy production as costs to the physical environment.
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Landscape degradation is negligible with renewable energy generation as there is minimal disturbance to the natural environment.
Unlike fossil fuel or nuclear power, renewable energy technologies require minimal water usage leaving more of the precious resource for agriculture and human consumption.
Renewable energy technologies are generally compatible with the landscape so there is no competition for land use for farming; the two can comfortably coexist.
Rather than suffering landscape degradation, the community can look forward to improvements in surrounding roads as wind farm construction commences.
Water usage concerns do not exist for wind farms.
At Flyers Creek, farming will be unaffected by the wind turbines and a farmer confidently states ‘There’ll be no difference in [current] operations’ with working turbines.
The financial cost to the taxpayer through subsidies to the fossil fuel industry globally is USD 523 billion. In Australia, it’s AUD 10 billion. Despite this, the fossil fuel industry pays for just a small fraction of its own pollution, and only since the introduction of a price on carbon. In 2010, carbon economy and climate change related losses worldwide is estimated at over USD 1.2 trillion dollars.
The cost to taxpayers globally for renewable energy technologies is USD 88 billion, less than 17% of the subsidies paid to the fossil fuel industry. Arguments surrounding subsidies are often used to stall renewable energy projects which have the capacity to save millions of tonnes of CO2 each year in Australia alone.
NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) estimates large-scale renewable energy target costs of $40 for 2013/14, or $10 a quarter, for the typical residential electricity bill. That represents a rise from 1.3% to 2% of your bill.
Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions from burning the fossil fuels which have powered our civilisation through the 19th and 20th centuries are amplifying the greenhouse effect of our atmosphere and causing our planet to warm, changing the climate in the process. The oceans are absorbing this carbon dioxide too, altering the chemistry of the water. These conditions are profoundly affecting the fundamental food chain resources of both sea and land.
Greenhouse gas liability is no longer material with power generation which is carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) neutral. All renewable energy resources are low carbon.
Manufacturing a wind turbine generator has associated greenhouse gas emissions which are, however, all offset within nine months of operation. Thereafter all power generation supports a clean energy future.
The politics of the current power system is in the hands of the few and leaves the community dependant, insecure and out of pocket.
Community renewable energy projects champion democracy, energy security and local leadership. Community owned power says it all.
Cooperatives like CENREC are unique business models which have active membership tests and reward members with a very democratic process. All major decisions taken by the cooperative are determined by the members, thus strengthening community power.