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Tasmania’s Stories

State poised to be ‘nation’s battery’

Edition 183_Turnbull and the Premier V2

Energy projects worth $3 billion will turn Tasmania into Australia's battery in a vision unveiled by the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, in April.

He announced in Launceston that the Australian Renewable Energy Agency would contribute $2.5 million for a study into expanding Tasmania’s potential for producing and storing more hydro and wind power.

“There is an opportunity for this State to double the amount of renewable energy it produces,” Mr Turnbull said at Launceston’s Trevallyn Power Station.

“This is a great nation-building story. The sooner we pinpoint those opportunities the better. It will need to involve new infrastructure including power stations and a second Basslink inter-connector.”

The Premier, Will Hodgman, said the plan would set Tasmania up for the next 100 years. 

Thirteen pumped hydro storage projects are being considered, including two large-scale proposals involving the Mersey-Forth scheme and one each at the Great Lake and Lake Burbury.

Pumped hydro, in which cheap energy is used when available to pump water back uphill into storages, is seen as a type of large-scale battery that can stabilise supply from such intermittent sources as wind and solar.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency is also assessing plans from Hydro Tasmania to replace the ageing Tarraleah power scheme with a new station which would produce 40 per cent more power and make use of a new 17km tunnel from Lake King William.

It is also considering an application to enhance the Gordon Power Station by installing an extra turbine.

Tasmania is already Australia’s biggest generator of hydro power, doubling the Snowy Hydro Scheme’s output, and the pumped hydro proposals would deliver a further 2,500MW.

Mr Turnbull said the State’s role in national energy security needed to expand as the market moved towards more renewable generation.

More wind farms would be built in Tasmania and the State could also play a bigger role in storing electricity generated by new wind projects in other States.

“As more wind and solar energy enters the mix we need to back that up and store that energy. Tasmania has the potential to be the battery of Australia — a second generation Hydro Tasmania, Tassie Hydro 2.0,” Mr Turnbull said.

Hydro Tasmania's CEO, Steve Davy, said his organisation's proposals were not so much about building new dams, but upgrading and connecting existing stations, upgrading others and strengthening the transmission system.

Mr Turnbull said: “Enhancing Tasmania’s considerable hydro-electric and renewables potential will provide new economic opportunities.

“Pumped hydro can further stabilise the National Electricity Market and underpin additional wind investment in the State.”

The proposals would strengthen Tasmania’s energy security, and allow it to export more power.

A study into a second inter-connector cable to increase Tasmania’s energy security after last year's Basslink breakdown was released by John Tamblyn in April.

Dr Tamblyn, a former Chairman of the Australian Energy Market Commission, estimated the cost of the cable at up to $1.1 billion.

He found that its economic benefits would depend on growth in the State’s energy system and demand in the National Energy Market, but that was before Mr Turnbull’s announcement.

Mr Hodgman said Tasmania planned to invest about $1 billion over the next 10 years to maintain and refurbish existing hydro power assets.

The Federal Minister for Environment and Energy, Josh Frydenberg, said Tasmania could become an important power source for Victoria after the closure of the Hazelwood brown coal plant in March.

Mr Turnbull had announced a plan earlier in the month to use pumped hydro to boost the capacity of the Snowy Mountains Hydro Scheme by 50 per cent.

Meanwhile, an innovative research project is underway on Bruny Island driven by about 35 subsidised battery systems installed in homes with solar panels.

A computerised system run by TasNetworks tells residents, in real time, the price they will be paid if they contribute their stored power to the Bruny Network at times of high demand.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has contributed nearly $3 million to the project in the hope that it will reduce diesel generation on the island in times of peak demand, while also providing a blueprint for a possible national rollout of the concept.

In Launceston, a $2 million solar project with 4,000 panels is expected to reduce the city's carbon dioxide emissions by 600 tonnes a year.

Nest Energy's Mark Barnett said: “The power that is generated will be sold to the tenants at a price which is significantly less than they are experiencing and any surplus will go into the grid and be on-sold."

The project is expected to have a 35-year lifespan.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures for 2015–16 showed that renewable energy provided 1,190 jobs across the State with 1,040 in hydro, 100 in solar and 30 in wind.

Image courtesy of The Mercury

1 May 2017, Edition 183

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Facts about Tasmania

Tasmania

Tasmania is the southernmost state of Australia, located at latitude 40° south and longitude 144° east and separated from the continent by Bass Strait. It is a group of 334 islands, with the main island being 315 km (180 miles) from west to east and 286 km (175 miles) north to south.

Tasmania

Tasmanians are resourceful and innovative people, committed to a continually expanding export sector. In 2012-13, international exports from the state totalled $3.04 billion. USA, China, Taiwan, India, Japan and other Asian countries account for the bulk of exports, with goods and services also exported to Europe and many other regions.

Geography

Tasmania is similar in size to the Republic of Ireland or Sri Lanka. The Tasmanian islands have a combined coastline of more than 3,000 km.

Geography

The main island has a land area of 62,409 sq km (24,096 sq miles) and the minor islands, taken together, total only 6 per cent of the main island's land area. The biggest islands are Flinders (1,374 sq km/539 sq miles), King, Cape Barren, Bruny and Macquarie Islands.

Geography

About 250km (150 miles) separates Tasmania’s main island from continental Australia. The Kent Group of Islands, one of the most northerly parts of the state, is only 55km (34 miles) from the coast of the Australian continent.

Climate

Twice named 'Best Temperate Island in the World' by international travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler, Tasmania has a mild, temperate maritime climate, with four distinct seasons.

Climate

In summer (December to February) the average maximum temperature is 21° Celsius (70° Fahrenheit). In winter (June to August) the average maximum is 12° C (52° F) and the average minimum is 4° C (40° F). Snow often falls in the highlands, but is rarely experienced in more settled areas.

Annual Rainfall

Tasmania’s west coast is one of the wettest places in the world, but the eastern part of the State lives in a rain-shadow. Hobart, the second-driest capital city in Australia, receives about half as much rain as Sydney.

Annual Rainfall

Annual rainfall in the west is 2,400 mm (95 inches), but hardy locals insist there is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing. If you travel 120 km east to Hobart, you experience a much drier average of 626 mm (24 inches) a year.

Population

The 512,875-strong community spreads itself across the land; less urbanised than the population of any other Australian state. Hobart, the capital city, is home to more than 212,000 people.

Capital City

Hobart nestles at the foot of Mt Wellington (1,270 m / 4,000 ft) and overlooks the Derwent Estuary, where pods of dolphins and migrating whales are sometimes seen from nearby beaches. Surrounded by thickly forested rolling hills, the city is home to the state parliament and the main campus of the University of Tasmania.

Capital City

Its historic centre features Georgian and Regency buildings from colonial times. Hobart is home port for coastal fishing boats, Antarctic expeditions and vessels that fish the Southern Ocean.

Land Formation

Mountain ranges in the south-west date back 1,000 million years. Ancient sediments were deeply buried, folded and heated under enormous pressure to form schists and glistening white quartzites.

Land Formation

In the south-west and central highlands, dolerite caps many mountains, including Precipitous Bluff and Tasmania's highest peak, Mt Ossa (1617 m / 5300 ft). More than 42 per cent of Tasmania is World Heritage Area, national park and marine or forest reserves.

Flora

Vegetation is diverse, from alpine heathlands and tall open eucalypt forests to areas of temperate rainforests and moorlands, known as buttongrass plains. Many plants are unique to Tasmania and the ancestors of some species grew on the ancient super-continent, Gondwana, before it broke up 50 million years ago.

Flora

Unique native conifers include slow-growing Huon pines, with one specimen on Mt Read estimated to be up to 10,000 years old. Lomatia tasmanica, commonly known as King's holly, is a self-cloning shrub that may well be the oldest living organism on earth. It was discovered in 1937.

Fauna

Tasmania is the last refuge of several mammals that once roamed the Australian continent. It is the only place to see a Tasmanian devil or eastern quoll (native cat) in the wild and is the best place to see the spotted-tailed quoll (tiger cat), all carnivorous marsupials.

Fauna

The eastern bettong and the Tasmanian pademelon, both now extinct on the Australian continent, may also be observed.

Fauna

The Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, was Australia's largest surviving carnivorous marsupial and is a modern day mystery. The last documented thylacine died in captivity in 1936 and although the animal is considered extinct, unsubstantiated sightings persist.

History and Heritage

Aboriginal people have lived in Tasmania for about 35,000 years, since well before the last Ice Age. They were isolated from the Australian continent about 12,000 years ago, when the seas rose to flood low coastal plains and form Bass Strait.

History and Heritage

Descendants of the original people are part of modern Tasmania's predominantly Anglo-Celtic population.

History and Heritage

Tasmania was originally named Van Dieman’s Land by the Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman in 1642. The island was settled by the British as a penal colony in 1803 and the original name was associated with the convict era. It was changed to Tasmania when convict transportation stopped in 1853.

Economy

A resourceful island culture has generated leading-edge niche industries, from production of high-speed catamaran ferries and marine equipment to lightning-protection technology.

Economy

Tasmanians produce winches and windlasses for some of the world's biggest ocean-going pleasure craft; large-scale inflatable evacuation systems and provide specialist outfit-accommodation services to the marine industry.

Economy

The Wooden Boat Centre at Shipwrights Point has re-established the skills and traditions of another age and attracts students from around the world.

Economy

Tasmania is a world leader in natural turf systems for major sporting arenas and in areas of mining technology and environmental management. Its aquaculture industry has developed ground-breaking fish-feeding technology and new packaging.

Economy

Tasmanians sell communications equipment to many navies and their world-class fine timber designers and craftsmen take orders internationally for furniture made from distinctive local timber.

Economy

The state is a natural larder with clean air, unpolluted water and rich soils inviting the production of 100 varieties of specialty cheeses, as well as other dairy products, mouth-watering rock lobsters, oysters, scallops and abalone, Atlantic salmon, beef, premium beers, leatherwood honey, mineral waters, fine chocolates, fresh berry fruits, apples and crisp vegetables.

Economy

Tasmania is a producer of award-winning cool-climate wines, beers, ciders and whiskies. Other export products include essential oils such as lavender, pharmaceutical products and premium wool sought after in Europe and Asia. Hobart is a vital gateway to the Antarctic and a centre for Southern Ocean and polar research.

Economy

The industries in Tasmania which made the greatest contribution to the state's gross product in 2010-11 in volume terms were: Manufacturing (9.4%), Health care and social assistance (8.2%), Financial and insurance services (7.2%), Ownership of dwellings and Agriculture, forestry and fishing (each 7.1%).

Getting to Tasmania

Travel is easy, whether by air from Sydney or Melbourne, or by sea, with daily sailings of the twin ferries Spirit of Tasmania 1 and 2 each way between Melbourne and Devonport throughout the year.

This site has been produced by the Brand Tasmania Council © 2014

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