The Australian Wind Energy Association today set a target of 5000 MW of wind power by 2010 – enough to provide power to 2.3 million homes. The aim was to make wind power cheaper and turn it into a multi-billion dollar industry, the association said at its conference in Canberra.

The wind power industry and Greenpeace estimate the target would enable the creation of 10 000 full-time jobs and would cut greenhouse gas emissions by three per cent. The electricity industry contributes 40 per cent of national greenhouse gas emissions.

A global wind industry boom was underway, particularly in Germany, Denmark and Spain, the organisations said. Last week Australia’s largest wind farm opened in

southwestern Victoria and will generate enough electricity to power 14 000 homes.

Australia would be producing 72 MW of wind energy by the end of this year and there was growing interest in developing wind farms in Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and NSW, Association president Heinz Dahl said. “We hope that sort of development, which is still pretty small in the overall scheme of things, I think it equates out to less than 0.1 per cent of the total consumption of the world, so we’re not looking at large targets,” Mr Dahl told ABC radio.

Australian Democrats energy spokeswoman Lyn Allison said there would be a shift away from the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels towards renewable industries and clean energy jobs with campaigning by political parties. Australia must focus on reducing the impact of fossil fuels on global warming, she said. “It is just so blatantly obvious to me, that a country which has amongst the best wind resources in the world, should target this industry for further substantial development and investment,” Senator Allison said.

Australia needed to develop eco-efficient industries, she said. “As [singer] Bob Dylan said, “the answer my friend is blowing in the wind’,” Senator Allison said.