Putting the spin on wind energy

Published 9 November 2006

The debate on global warming should be over, Southern Cross University wind energy researcher Richard Finlay-Jones will tell a symposium at the Tweed Gold Coast campus on Saturday.

The global community must now move forward and find ways to reduce greenhouse emissions – particularly from energy generation – said Mr Finlay-Jones, one of 65 Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) candidates giving presentations this weekend at the University’s bi-annual Doctoral Symposium.

Mr Finlay-Jones, a director of BioEnergy Australia, will present his research findings following an investigation of eight wind energy projects across Australia.

Business leaders, academics and researchers from across the Asia-Pacific region and Europe will be presenting their diverse research findings. Topics include: Leadership in Australia – How Different Are We? The Relationship Between Ethics, Morality and Justice to Quality of Work Life, and Gender Imbalance in Organisational Leadership Roles.

Associate Professor Peter Miller, director of the DBA program with the Graduate College of Management, said he was thrilled to have DBA and PhD candidates of such a high calibre presenting at the University this weekend.

“This weekend’s presentations highlight Southern Cross University’s research excellence,” he said.

“In the latest national survey by Graduate Careers Australia, our University has been ranked as number one of all Australian universities for overall satisfaction in ‘research experience’.

“The survey measures six categories over a three-year period for students undertaking PhD, masters and doctoral studies and we have achieved fantastic results.

“We ranked first in the categories Overall Satisfaction, Intellectual Climate, and Goals and Expectations, and achieved second ranking in Skills Development and Thesis Examination.”

Mr Finlay-Jones will tell the Doctoral Symposium that wind energy is now the fastest growing energy generation industry globally.

“This rapid growth is being driven by increasing global energy demand, commitment from governments globally to international agreements including the Kyoto Protocol to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases (which Australia has failed to ratify), as well as individual country commitments to mandatory renewable energy targets,” he said.

“In Australia, wind energy development to date has been driven primarily by the development of the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target under the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000. This requires a commitment to 2% of total electricity generation (9,500GW) to be derived from renewable energy sources by the year 2010.

“However it is known that the current federal obligation to renewable energy is now oversubscribed, and consequently the likelihood of further wind energy projects being developed is highly limited.

“And while wind energy provides one of the potential solutions to generate renewable energy without creating harmful greenhouse gases, there are risk management issues associated with wind energy development in Australia.

“External to the government commitment to renewable energy, the development of wind energy projects requires a range of inputs including an understanding of the wind resource, security of land, access to suitable electricity transmission grid, a market for the electricity, access to suitable technology and a level of community support.

“While the general literature related to project management and risk management is extensive, literature specifically related to the risks associated with wind energy development in Australia is limited.

“My research has tried to fill this void by asking the question: ‘How can project managers minimise the risk associated with wind energy developments in Australia?’.

“To investigate this research problem, comparative case study analysis was adopted as a methodology, utilising a structured interview process of project managers responsible for the development of eight Australian wind energy projects.

“The research showed that the greatest risk to Australian projects is the lack of security associated with the current federal legislation and the consequent loss of market value of the power from wind energy projects.

“A number of additional primary and secondary risks were also identified by the interview participants, and the research was able to draw out three common themes of risk management strategies: conservatism, due diligence and pro-activism.

“My study contributes to the research associated with project management, risk management and wind energy development. This insight into the Australian wind energy industry provides policy makers, educators and stakeholders with information to assist in improving the political, economic and social environment for further wind energy development, in order to mitigate against further greenhouse gas emission and combat global warming.”

Photo: Richard Finlay-Jones.

Media contact: Zoe Satherley Southern Cross University media officer, 6620 3144, 0439 132 095.