Tasmania managed its way through an unprecedented energy crisis in 2016 when a record drought coincided with an outage of its Basslink undersea cable. In normal conditions, the State contributes more than 50 per cent of Australia’s renewable energy. An impressive array of hydro power stations generate most of the energy and the State has also been a driving force in the commercialisation of wind energy. Basslink connects Tasmania with the south-east Australian power network, enabling it to export power in times of local over-supply and to buy in energy so it can conserve water in its dams during periods of below-average rainfall.
Hydro Tasmania operates power stations and related infrastructure throughout the State for the generation and trading of electricity. Two other Government-owned enterprises, TasNetworks and Aurora, are respectively responsible for energy reticulation and marketing. A Hydro subsidiary, Endura, provides specialised engineering services to clients in Australia and overseas.
Hydro Tasmania has a 50 per cent interest in three wind farms with CLP Power Asia Ltd, the biggest foreign wind farm investor in China.
Tasmania has a natural gas-fuelled power station at Bell Bay to back up the hydro system.
Geothermal energy and wave energy are future options, while the Government supports the installation of solar panels on homes. Nu Energy is among businesses supplying and installing solar panels. It employs 24 people in designing, supplying, installing and maintaining renewable power products, including grid solar systems, solar panels, solar hot-water systems, wind turbines, remote-area power systems, eco-fridges, renewable energy components and electric scooters.
Facts and figures
- Hydro Tasmania has total generating capacity of 2,568 MW and assets worth about $3 billion.
- Geoscience Australia has estimated that thermal energy could generate 25,000 times Australia’s present electricity requirements.
- Licences for geothermal exploration in Tasmania total 19,457 sq km.
- Drought reduced hydro storages to a record low of 12.8 per cent of capacity in early 2016.
- Hydro Tasmania has been operating for more than 100 years and employs more than 800 people.
- Tasmania’s three major wind farms have total generating capacity of 308MW.