The state of Victoria, Australia, boasts some truly spectacular sites ranging from striking coastlines to the peaks of the Australian Alps, with acres of vineyards and the bustling, cosmopolitan city of Melbourne in between. Unfortunately, the area is also known for its pollution. “According to Environment Victoria, Victorians have the unenviable badge of being the most polluting people per capita on the planet,” says Tanya Jackson, asset management services manager for the renewable energy company RES Australia. “The brown coal the region uses [to generate heat and electricity] creates more pollution than black coal or natural gas.”
This reality clashes with a goal Australia has set for itself. The country wants to source 23.5 percent of the country’s energy needs from renewables by 2020. The state of Victoria, however, has introduced its own, more aggressive target of 25 percent by 2020 and 40 percent by 2025. Victoria is helping the country with a new wind farm in Ararat, an agricultural region about 180 kilometers (112 miles) northwest of Melbourne. Spread over more than 5,000 hectares of rolling green hills, Ararat Wind Farm, which started generating power to the grid in September last year, is the third-largest wind farm in Australia. The US$450 million development holds 75 GE wind turbines and has the capacity to generate enough energy to power 120,000 homes — or 6 percent of all Victoria households — per year.
This also “equates to 280,000 metric tonnes of savings in carbon dioxide annually,” Jackson says. “It’s the equivalent of 6,500 full of coal.” Her company, RES Australia, runs the wind farm, which GE Capital partially financed and which uses GE wind turbines.
Ararat is an example of what’s possible with GE solutions that benefit both the bottom line and the environment. GE says that since 2005, such technologies have reduced global carbon dioxide emissions by 5.5 gigatonnes and have provided costs savings of over $3.4 billion to GE and its customers. GE’s wind power alone has displaced 160 million tonnes of coal and avoided 600 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emission.
Here’s a look at how other GE technologies are helping make the world a greener place: