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Government promises 1,000 GWs

Edition 187_Cluny

The generation of renewable energy is to be ramped up in Tasmania to make the State totally self-reliant in terms of energy.

The Minister for Energy, Matthew Groom, made this commitment in August following the release of reports on the State’s 2016 energy crisis by the Energy Security Taskforce and the Public Accounts Committee.

Mr Groom said in a statement: “A re-elected Hodgman Government will make Tasmania renewable energy self-sufficient.

“This will require up to 1,000 GigaWatt hours of additional renewable generation … enough to replace power imports via Basslink.

“This target will further cement Tasmania’s place as the renewable energy battery of the nation and enhance energy security.

“The target is also in line with the recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee Report and the Energy Security Taskforce Report.

“Tasmania is already well on track, with a new [windfarm] at Wild Cattle Hill due to begin construction later this year and a proposed Granville Harbour wind farm to begin construction next year.

“The Government will also advance further renewable development opportunities with Hydro Tasmania, including augmenting the current system and introducing pumped hydro, as well as looking at further opportunities in wind, biomass and large-scale solar generation.”

In a first step, Hydro Tasmania is upgrading a turbine from the Cluny Power Station on the River Derwent from four blades to five as part of a major refurbishment of the Derwent system, which is expected to increase electricity generation by more than 80 GW hours by 2021.

Hydro Tasmania’s CEO, Steve Davy, said in August: “We’re well-placed to help make Tasmania the Battery of the Nation … By increasing Tasmania’s interconnection, boosting our hydropower system and further developing the State’s world-class wind power, we could grow [our national] contribution significantly.”

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency is working with Hydro Tasmania to explore 15 new pumped storage hydro opportunities, with potential to nearly double Hydro’s current renewable capacity.

A Basslink outage and months of low rainfall made emergency diesel generation necessary in 2016 and cost Hydro Tasmania as much as $180 million.

Hydro storages had fallen to 12.8 per cent in April 2016, compared with 41.4 per cent in early September 2017.

The Public Accounts Committee recommended that significant changes be made to energy security management.

Mr Groom’s target will be challenging, but achievable over time.

Private investors have recently announced new wind-energy projects at Robbins Island, Jim’s Plains and Low Head, as well as Wild Cattle Hill and Granville Harbour.

The five projects involve investment of more than $2 billion, with around 410 turbines to be built, delivering more than 1,200 MW of new generation capacity.

Pumped hydro opportunities, in which water used for generation is pumped back uphill for re-use, alone have potential to nearly double Hydro Tasmania’s existing capacity of 2,600 MW.

The business delivers about 9,000 GW hours a year (1 GW = 1,000MW).

The Public Accounts Committee Report said the former Labor-Green government and the present Liberal government had both played parts in the delayed re-commissioning of the Tamar Valley Power Station which necessitated the use of emergency diesel generation during the crisis.

It also found the Tasmanian Minerals and Energy Council had not been consulted about the sale of a generator from the station in 2015.

Industrial electricity users subsequently incurred significant costs when they accepted energy-supply reductions.

The committee also recommended that Hydro Tasmania should disclose any negative impacts from a gas-contract negotiation with Tasmanian Gas Pipeline.

A new deal between the two companies is due to be finalised in December.

The Chairman of the committee, Ivan Dean, said: “A timely and satisfactory resolution of this issue is necessary for certainty of prices for other gas users including small and medium businesses, major industry and residential customers.”

Among the committee’s main recommendations were:

  • The Tamar Valley Power Station’s main turbine should be retained in the interests of energy security;
  • Hydro Tasmania’s storage management policies should be revised in view of altered assumptions about the reliability of Basslink;
  • Energy security should be a responsibility of the government of the day; and
  • Voluntary or forced load shedding by industry should not be a part of energy security planning.

Hydro Tasmania fired up its gas-powered station at Bell Bay in September because gas-generation costs were lower than the present cost of power imported over Basslink.

Image courtesy of Hydro Tasmania

6 September 2017, Edition 187

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