Terry McCrann - please check your facts

Prominent business commentator Terry McCrann has used the low power output from the Macarthur Wind Farm over the last three months of 2012 to suggest wind power is useless. But he missed something rather important.

In a column in the Herald Sun yesterday headlined, What a lot of hot air from AGL, Terry McCrann opened with:

The near total uselessness of so-called wind farms was nicely if unintentionally exposed by the detail in the AGL interim profit numbers yesterday.

As background these interim profit and power output numbers were reporting the half year period from July to December 2012. He then took aim specifically at AGL’s new 420MW wind project at Macarthur stating:

The new Macarthur farm, albeit only operating for three months, contributed a miserable 128 GWh.

Miserable? Well the thing is that Macarthur was still under construction during that 3 month period he mentions and is still right now going through commissioning tests.

Below is a chart from Vestas which shows the number of Macarthur turbines connected and exporting generation to the grid over the last three months of 2012. It illustrates that it wasn’t until December 12 that all 140 turbines were up and running (although still undergoing commissioning).

Number of Macarthur Wind Farm turbines operational and capable of exporting generation

Source: Vestas

So, yes, Macarthur only produced a "miserable" 128GWh (equivalent to annual electricity consumption of about 18,000 households) over a three month period during which it was still being constructed. But if we were to extend Terry McCrann’s logic, coal-fired power stations, gas turbines and particularly nuclear power would be even more useless, because they don’t generate electricity for several years until after construction starts.