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Tasmania’s Stories

Powering Tasmania’s future

Edition 196_Tarraleah

Tasmania’s plan to become the ‘Battery of the Nation’ is moving closer to reality with a $500 million transformation of the Tarraleah Power Station on the cards.

It was in April last year that Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, first championed his vision of the island state as Australia’s battery – to be powered along by $3 billion worth of energy projects.

This would mean that as an increasing number of coal-fired power stations are retired as we seek clean green energy, Tasmania, with its enormous potential for producing hydro and wind power, would step in and fill the void.

“There is an opportunity for this State to double the amount of renewable energy it produces,” the Prime-Minister said at the time.

“This is a great nation-building story…it will need to involve new infrastructure including power stations.”

The Tarraleah Power Station may be one of Tasmania’s oldest hydro assets but it is very much part of this future.

A recently announced $5 million feasibility study – jointly funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and Hydro Tasmania – is looking into the redevelopment of the ageing Tarraleah scheme.

If it gets the green light, this will be a major infrastructure project three years in the making, costing some $500 million. It would transform the Central Highlands scheme, which was commissioned in the 1930s, into a state-of-the art hydropower asset.

Tarraleah currently contributes 6.5 per cent of Hydro’s total production, and this proposed overhaul would more than double the power station’s capacity – taking it from 104 to 220 megawatts (MW).

It would also ensure Tarraleah as a central plank in plans to turn Tasmania into Australia’s battery.

“While pumped hydro and wind power attract most of the attention, getting more electricity from our existing hydropower assets will also be crucial. We can start by finding another 116 MW from Tarraleah,” Hydro Tasmania CEO, Steve Davy, said.

“Battery of the Nation is about locking in our island’s energy security and giving Tasmanians the lowest possible power prices. It offers a future that’s clean, reliable and affordable.

“This upgrade will also transform Tarraleah into Tasmania’s first truly 21st century hydropower station – adding stability and flexibility to Australia’s future clean energy market.”

The proposed Tarraleah transformation follows hot on the heels of another Battery of the Nation milestone: a short-list of 14 ‘high potential’ pumped hydro sites, which were unveiled in mid-June.

These sites are spread over eight locations in the Central Highlands and on the north, and north-west coasts. Five are at Lake Cethana; two at Lakes Murchison and Margaret; and one each at Lakes Parangana, Rowallan, Rosebery, Echo and Great Lake/yingina.

Hydro Tasmania will commence investigations into the suitability of these various sites and is expected to reduce the list by about half.

Pumped hydro is a game-changer for Tasmania – the key to the state’s future as Australia’s battery.

Put simply, it’s the creation of a large-scale ‘battery’ where water can be re-used, meaning no new dams are needed.

When energy is cheap to produce, water that has been released into dams is pumped back uphill to a reservoir where it is kept in storage. As demand requires, the water is again released through the turbines providing additional power into the electricity grid.

Tasmania is already Australia’s biggest generator of hydro power, but pumped hydro would double that capacity by adding an extra 2,500 MW.

“Doubling Tasmania’s clean energy would also create a surplus, beyond our island’s needs, to support mainland Australia. That’s crucial to replace the coal power that’s being phased out,” Mr Davy added.

Pumped Hydro would also be an economic windfall with Federal Energy Minister, Josh Frydenberg, predicting it could potentially deliver $5 billion of investment and 3,000 jobs in regional Tasmania over the next 10 to 15 years.

For more than a century, Hydro has shaped Tasmania.

There are 30 power stations spread across the state; developed during our first era of ‘hydro-industrialisation’ which began in 1916 when hydro-electricity was created for the very first time at Waddamana in the Central Highlands.

Now, led by pumped hydro and transformed assets – like the Tarraleah Power Station – we are about to embark on a journey into next generation hydro.

A journey Premier Will Hodgman has proclaimed will “set Tasmania up for the next 100 years.”

Image Courtesy of Hydro Tasmania

11 July 2018, Edition 196

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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 kunanyi / Mount 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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