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Tasmania aims for 100% renewables by 2020, 35% carbon cuts

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The Tasmanian Government has charged ahead of mainland Australia by launching a new  climate action plan that will commit the state to 100 per cent renewables by 2020 and a 35 per cent reduction in emissions.

Mainland Australia is now almost exclusively controlled by federal and state local governments who are opposed to climate change policies and are seeking to slow the investment of renewables. The only two exceptions are the Labor government in the ACT, which has a 90 per cent renewables target by 2020, and the Labor government in South Australia, which is heading to more than 50 per cent renewables by the same time.

Both are now being out-bid by the Labor-Green Coalition in Tasmania which aims to lift its hydro-rich state from an average 87 per cent renewables penetration to 100 per cent – mostly by removing the need to import coal-fired power from Victoria.

The government this week released its Climate Smart Tasmania: A 2020 Climate Change Strategy. “It’s the most comprehensive plan by any Australian Government to reduce carbon emissions and help communities adapt to a changing climate, built on more than a year of careful research and consultation,” Cassy O’Connor, the Tasmanian Climate Change Minister, said.

She noted in was in vast contrast to the actions of the Tony Abbott government, which has abandoned the country’s long-held emissions reduction target, started working on repealing the carbon price, and destroyed our international standing at U.N. talks in Warsaw.

“With a climate denialist government in Canberra determined to wind back Australia’s efforts to reduce emissions, it’s more important than ever that Tasmania shows leadership. We’re already making great progress,” O’Connor said.

A large part of the plan is to stop importing coal-fired power from mainland Australia, which constituted 15 per cent of total energy use in 2007. Tasmania has also set a goal to reduce emissions by 60 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.

The plan focuses on energy efficiency in existing buildings, monitoring emissions and biodiversity, water use efficiency, reducing barriers to utilising renewable energies, training Tasmania’s workforce, looking into electrification of public transport as well as managing and reducing natural hazard risks in the state.

The state says it has enough renewable energy resources (wind and biomass in the short-term, geothermal in the medium-term and wave and tidal in the long-term) to supply electricity Tasmanian electricity demand with leftover generating capacity to export electricity to the mainland.

“The proportion of energy generated from renewable sources varies from year to year as it is influenced by factors such as rainfall patterns. However, given the potential developments already announced in the State, Tasmania’s electricity production from renewable sources is likely to exceed 100 per cent of the State’s annual demand by 2020 allowing the surplus to be exported,” the document says.

“By encouraging continued investment in this sector, Tasmania can enjoy direct and indirect economic benefits, including job creation, enhancing the State’s strong renewable energy brand and the potential to attract new, large-scale industries that wish to capitalise on this brand.”

Among its policy initiatives is to extending the Renewable Energy Loan Scheme (RELS ) and broadening eligibility to include community organisations.

The Government has outlined its top ten actions for carbon abatement and net benefits including; constraining urban growth, carbon smart farming, a light rail and smart transport network, seven star rated buildings, the Tasmanian energy savings initiative, replacement of metro bus fleet, a North-South metro transit corridor, influencing travel behavioural change or ‘smart trips’ and safe and efficient driving.

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  • Andrew Tovey

    “The state says it has enough renewable energy resources (wind and biomass in the short-term, geothermal in the medium-term and wave and tidal in the long-term) to supply electricity Tasmanian electricity demand with leftover generating capacity to export electricity to the mainland.”

    Do we know if that ‘biomass’ includes any of the state’s old-growth forests? In NSW our forests are being chipped for power production and greenwashed as renewable energy. I should hope that Tassie’s plan doesn’t do the same!

    • juxx0r

      If Tassie developed half it’s wind potential they’d have over 100% easy. With the hydro acting as storage they’d be on. Run of the river hydro could be utilised in several places too.

  • Andrew Tovey

    I wonder if ‘carbon smart farming’ includes ‘carbon smart forestry’. As long as they keep cutting down carbon sinks there’s an elephant in the room. Carbon neutral forestry is entirely possible but requires a serious overhaul of the traditional system in place.

  • Alistair Spong

    Wow, given Tasmanias restrained tax base this a very positive announcement

  • Rob

    It looks like it will be up to the State governments to lead Australia’s version of Germany’s “Energiewende” because the Federal government is not only missing in action but very actively working against renewable energy. It makes sense to continue to enhance what makes Tasmania unique in the world in terms of its green brand. There will be many advantages, including attracting green tourism. Who will be the first state of Australia to be able to claim it is 100% renewable? The race is on!

  • RobS

    WTF?!? Tasmania was a significant exporter of hydro and wind power into Victoria and the only fossil fuel power station in the state the Bell bay gas plant was indefintely shuttered in 2012, we are at over 100% renewables now. What a bizarre goal.

    • Ronald Brakels

      My information is a bit dated but it shows Tasmania being a net importer of electricity from the mainland in terms of kilowatt-hours. In terms of dollars Tasmania could very well be a net exporter on account of they export electricity when the price is high and import it when the price is low which lets them preserve water in their hydroelectricity dams until the price goes back up again.

  • patb2009

    given Tasmanias relatively small size, it could easily install Level 3 chargers and push to convert cars over to electricity, which would mean they don’t need to import much in the way of fossil fuels.

    • Ronald Brakels

      Tasmania would be a great place for electric cars with its clean grid. And a huge number of level 3 chargers would not be needed as Australia’s standard current is powerful enough to recharge most electric cars overnight from a normal powerpoint, which is what I’m sure most people would do.

  • Concerned