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Energy stories

The following stories relate to Tasmania’s Energy sector:

Energy storage levels monitored

The long dry summer has impacted on Tasmania’s energy reserves, with storage levels down 11 per cent compared with the same time last year. Last month Tasmania imported three times more energy than it exported. The Energy Regulator is monitoring the situation closely, but said no additional action is required at this time. Some areas of the state recorded their driest January on record. In the meantime, Hydro Tasmania has confirmed the Tamar Valley Power Station is operating at full capacity. The public is also urged to be cautious about water usage. TasWater is currently reviewing its water resources around the state in light of the dry weather. It urges people to use this precious resource wisely, even if water restrictions are not in place in their area.

14 February 2019, Edition 202

Home batteries light up future

The potential for home battery systems to balance the supply of electricity, thereby replacing the reliance on large generators, is the focus of a research project valued at $1.8 million being led by the University of Tasmania (UTAS). Scientists will work with industry and international partners to develop the functionality of devices, such as home battery systems, to mimic the role large generators play in electricity supply. Currently, generators – including coal-fired power plants and hydro generators – work to sustain the balance in supplying electricity. Project lead and UTAS engineering researcher, Associate Professor Evan Franklin, said: “In Australia, there are currently about 50,000 batteries in homes, where two or three years ago there were practically none … Projections are one in five households will have a battery installed in the next 15 or so years.”

14 February 2019, Edition 202

Electricity back in black

Tasmania is powering again – literally. The state’s electricity exports are back in the black, being once again a net electricity exporter, largely fuelled by full dams and a surge in solar power usage. This is a dramatic reversal in fortunes from 2016. Two years ago Tasmania was in the midst of an energy crisis, sparked by a perfect storm of hydro dam levels falling to 12.8 per cent capacity due to record low rainfall and an extended outage of the Basslink power cable preventing electricity imports. The state responded by bringing in diesel generators to boost power supplies and recommissioning the Tamar Valley Power Station. The Tasmanian Economic Regulator’s recent annual report shows the amount of power produced across the network was 10 per cent higher than in the past two years, despite an increase in demand. It pointed to full dams which now sit at around 40 per cent capacity, and the growth of solar power.

7 December 2018, Edition 201

Dam levels offer summer security

As we head into the summer months, Hydro Tasmania reports that the state’s lake storage is “very secure at 47.5 per cent full". Hydro’s Wholesale Energy Services Director, Gerard Flack, said: “This provides a very secure position with the drier months approaching…Winter and spring are typically our wettest seasons, during which storage levels generally increase. They are then typically naturally drawn down during summer and autumn ready for the next season’s rainfall.” Hydro says this year’s water storage is similar to the same time last year when lakes were 47.8 per cent full, and levels have been boosted by bumper rainfall in July. It is a far cry from 2015 -2016, when Hydro Tasmania’s dam storage levels dropped to critically low levels sparking concerns about an energy crisis.

9 November 2018, Edition 200

Wind farm technology protects eagles

In an Australian first, a Tasmanian wind farm will employ cutting edge technology to help protect one of our most majestic creatures, the Tasmanian Wedge-tailed Eagle. The breakthrough science that will help prevent eagles from colliding with wind turbine blades will be installed at the Cattle Hill Wind Farm which is currently under construction in the Central Highlands. Goldwind Australia said it was installing the IdentiFlight aerial monitoring and detection system to help mitigate the wind farm’s impact on eagles. Managing Director, John Titchen, said the company, “understands the importance of balancing the need for clean renewable energy whilst protecting Tasmania’s unique wildlife, particularly the endangered Tasmanian Wedge-tailed Eagle.” Goldwind Australia says the technology works within seconds to alert the system of an approaching eagle, resulting in the 16 mounted IdentiFlight detection monitors shutting down any of the 48 turbines as necessary.

9 November 2018, Edition 200

Wave power on King Island

The powerful waters of Bass Strait have been earmarked for the first Tasmanian trial into wave energy. The $8 million trial will see a wave energy converter unit installed off King Island next year. The inventor, Wave Swell Energy, said the trial was a “commercial demonstration” which could lead to future wave energy farms in Tasmania. Chief executive, Dr Tom Denniss, told The Advocate that “this trial is designed to assess true commercial viability and from there we expand. A lot of Tasmania’s coastlines are good for wave energy. The whole west coast is excellent, as is the west coast of King Island and parts of the south-east coast.” The unit is expected to collect 200 kilowatts of energy from waves, which could supply power to 200 homes on King Island. Renewable energy is the world’s fastest growing energy source, and now accounts for 15 per cent of Australia’s total power supply.

9 November 2018, Edition 200

Powering Tasmania’s future

Edition 196_Tarraleah

Tasmania’s plan to become the ‘Battery of the Nation’ is moving closer to reality with a $500 million transformation of the Tarraleah Power Station on the cards.

11 July 2018, Edition 196

Solar score for Low Head

Situated at the mouth of the Tamar River, Low Head could soon be Tasmania’s renewable energy capital after George Town Council unanimously approved a 12-hectare solar farm in the area. The solar farm will be built on land adjacent to the George Town airport. The 12.5-megawatt facility, with 16,000 solar panels, would provide power for up to 2,000 homes and is being developed by Epuron Solar. In February, Council also granted Epuron an extension to its Low Head Wind Farm approving 10 new turbines. Epuron Project Manager Shane Bartel told The Examiner that Low Head is an ideal location for renewable because it has plenty of sun and wind. Also proximity to the George Town Sub Station was a big plus, he added: “It provides greater efficiency for generation when located close to the substation.” Meantime Mayor Bridget Archer said the region would embrace being the “renewable energy capital of Tasmania” and was open to more future developments. Epuron is also hoping to develop a larger solar farm at Wesley Vale which could provide power for some 3,000 homes and contain about 40,000 panels. This development is currently being considered by Latrobe Council.

3 May 2018, Edition 194

Stanley wind farm unveiled

A new wind farm has been proposed near Stanley in the wake of a decision by State and Federal governments to jointly fund a $20 million business case study into a second Bass Strait electricity inter-connector. The second cable will be needed for the $5 billion Battery of the Nation concept proposed for Tasmania by the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. Because of changing economics, private investors had announced new wind-energy projects at Wild Cattle Hill, Granville Harbour, Robbins Island/Jims Plain and Low Head before the Stanley project emerged in January. Sydney-based Epuron Projects is proposing up to 13 turbines on a cattle farm on the Stanley Peninsula, about 4k from the town. “The site is an exceptionally windy location in what is probably Australia’s windiest State,” Project Manager, Shane Bartel, said in material circulated to local residents. The project has potential for the highest energy yield per turbine in Australia and will connect to the Port Latta sub-station to supply renewable power to the National Electricity Market.” Mr Bartel said Epuron intended to “progress” a development application with the Circular Head Council in late 2018 and hoped to commence construction in 2019.

8 March 2018, Edition 192

Island gets renewables hub

Flinders Island has switched on a $13.38 million wind and solar hub which will supply on average 60 per cent of the island's power. Renewable supply could rise to 100 per cent when the weather is right. The picturesque island at the eastern end of Bass Strait is home to about 800 people who have previously depended on shipped-in diesel for power. The new hub uses sophisticated controls to manage a fluctuating mix of wind, solar and diesel power and is likely to be replicated in other remote Australian communities. The project was predominantly funded by Hydro Tasmania, with a $5.5 million contribution from the Federal Government's independent Australian Renewable Energy Agency. Similar hybrid technology has been installed on Tasmania's King Island, at Coober Pedy in South Australia, on Rottnest Island in Western Australia and at several smaller off-the-grid communities in the Northern Territory, but Flinders Island's system is the only one to have been built in shipping containers which were then taken to the island before being "plugged-in" to one another. There are plans to add tidal power to the Flinders Island mix over coming years and Hydro Tasmania's CEO, Steve Davy, said there was international interest in the project.

8 February 2018, Edition 191

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22 March 2019, Edition 203

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