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Tasmania’s Stories

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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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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