Tasmania’s Stories

Tasmania set to ride the wind

Edition 185_SimpsonSmithLrg

The Tasmanian economy looks set for an exciting wind ride following the announcement of four major new wind farm projects.

Total investment could exceed $2 billion, around 400 turbines could be built and resultant generation of up to 1,200 MW could be around four times the State's present wind output.

The transformative developments would be a big step towards the recently articulated vision of Tasmania as the nation's "renewable energy battery".

In June, projects were announced at Wild Cattle Hill, in the central highlands, and on Robbins Island and Jims Plains, in the north-west.

On 4 July, Cabinet met in Queenstown to ratify a supply agreement for the Westcoast Wind project on a cattle farm at Granville Harbour.

The Robbins Island/Jims Plain projects, together, would create the biggest wind farm in the southern hemisphere.

On land used by the Hammond family for wagyu beef production, it will be driven by UPC Renewables Australia, a specially set up subsidiary of one of the world's largest wind-farm businesses.

While UPC's initial announcement said the project was subject to the commissioning of a second Bass Strait inter-connector cable, ensuing comments by the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, suggested this would not be an impediment.

Mr Turnbull said there was a strong case for the second cable and it was under consideration for funding from Canberra.

Timelines known at this stage are:

September 2017      Construction starts at Wild Cattle Hill

                                   Proposed start at Granville Harbour

Mid-2018                  Jims Plain is investment ready

Early-2019                Robbins Island is investment ready

                                  Granville Harbour commissioned

2020                         Wild Cattle Hill commissioned

The 49-turbine Wild Cattle Hill wind farm near Waddamana involves a $300 million investment by China-linked Goldwind Energy and its project partner, local GBE Aurora Energy.

It will provide more than 150 construction jobs, about 10 on-going jobs and generate enough energy to serve 60,000 homes.

The Minister for Energy, Matthew Groom, said the project, alone, would increase Tasmania’s wind-generation capacity by nearly half and would strengthen the case for a second inter-connector which would provide a more secure link to the interstate energy market by backing up the existing Basslink cable.

Mr Groom said: "This is a 144 MW project of new installed generation capacity for Tasmania, so very important in terms of delivering clean energy for Tasmanians and also into the national market."

Mr Groom said Wild Cattle Hill represented a significant step towards the State Government’s energy vision.

“This announcement comes just weeks after the Prime Minister and the Premier announced plans to consider additional investment in pumped hydro and other upgrades to boost Tasmania’s renewable energy output,” Mr Groom said.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to capitalise on the building momentum for more renewable energy generation and the Hodgman Government is seizing it.”

In the north-west, the Hammond family began investigating the feasibility of a large wind farm on the west side of 10,184ha Robbins Island and on a 380ha site at Jims Plain nearly 16 years ago.

They have collected more than 12 years of wind data that show the Roaring 40s sites to be among the best in the world.

Environmental studies and financial modelling were completed before uncertainty and volatility in Federal Government energy policy and an impasse over transmission infrastructure led to the project being mothballed.

Early this year, improving conditions encouraged the Hammonds to re-engage with US-based UPC Renewables. An agreement was signed in June.

The Chief Executive of UPC Renewables Australia, Anton Rohner, said: “The Robbins Island project itself is a very large, isolated site and, together with Jims Plain, it has some of the best proven wind resources in the world.

"It is close to the Australian Energy Market operator’s proposed entry point for a second inter-connector between Tasmania and Victoria.

“The ... projects, together with Tasmania’s hydro assets and other new renewable energy projects, will assist in making a second inter-connector a dispatchable and significant renewable energy generator into the National Electricity Market.”

The company has initiated a study into the feasibility of connecting directly to the Victorian grid from Robbins Island.

“With the changes in the energy market and potential viable transmission solutions available, this project is set to proceed,” Mr Rohner said.

The two-farm project is expected to cost between $1.2 billion and $1.6 billion, providing about 250 construction jobs and more than 50 operational jobs.

"The technology to be deployed at the site will be mostly wind energy, but the option of additional solar and other non-hydro based energy-storage technologies is also contemplated," Mr Rohner said.

“From here, we have further resource and environmental monitoring work to undertake, with the development application processes and transmission studies commencing.”

Oliver Yates, the inaugural Chief Executive of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (a $10 billion fund set up by the Australian Government to reduce emissions), has joined UPC Australia as an Executive Director.

Mr Yates said the project had the scale and wind resource to become a major national contributor.

"Operating more than 90 per cent of the time, once linked to Victoria it is highly complementary to the National Electricity Market,” he said.

After hearing an address by proponent John Hammond, the Vice President of the Burnie Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Ian Jones, said: “It’s now time for the State Government to really push for the second Bass Strait inter-connector, bring it across the strait on to Robbins Island then connect to the proposed site at Jims Plains, which is adjacent to the Woolnorth wind farm, plus connect to the Granville Harbour project.

“The second inter-connector may even make the mothballed TasWind project on King Island viable again.

"In 10 years, green energy could become Tasmania’s biggest ... earner."

Meanwhile, Westcoast Wind will supply Hydro Tasmania with 360 gw/hours of electricity and renewable energy certificates each year, under a provisional agreement signed after long negotiations.

The project, on a cattle property owned by Royce Smith, will create about 200 jobs in construction and provide 99 MW of power, with potential to increase to 112 MW, subject to further approvals.

It will also create up to 50 wind-tower manufacturing jobs at Haywards in Launceston.

At 99 MW, it would provide carbon dioxide emissions abatement equivalent to removing more than 30,000 cars from the roads.

The conditional supply deal opens the way for the proponents to sign up a major investor.

Most of the State's existing 300+ MW of wind-power generation comes from joint ventures between Hydro Tasmania and Shenhua Clean Energy of China.

The Musselroe Bay Wind Farm has 56 turbines and a capacity of 168MW

The Studland Bay Wind Farm has 25 turbines and a capacity of 75MW

The Bluff Point Wind Farm has 37 smaller turbines and a capacity of 65MW

Hydro Tasmania wholly owns a small wind farm at Huxley Hill on King Island, which feeds energy into its highly regarded King Island Renewable Energy Integration Project.

In 2014, Hydro Tasmania mothballed a $2 billion TasWind proposal for 200 turbines on King Island generating 600 MW of power. The total investment would have included the project's own Bass Strait inter-connector.

Image courtesy of the ABC

4 July 2017, Edition 185

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Facts about 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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