Canberra, Hobart agree on second Basslink study

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CEFC to be involved in study for second Basslink – but will it be used to export more renewable energy, or import more coal-fired electricity?

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Tasmania has won approval from the Coalition government for a new feasibility study into a second electricity cable across Bass Strait following the loss of the current Basslink cable which has plunged the island state into a major energy crisis.

The feasibility study was announced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Premier Will Hodgman on Thursday, nearly six months after the Basslink cable was cut.

tasmania diesel

Tasmania has had to rely on its own energy resources, but the unprecedented falls in dam levels has forced it to turn to gas and diesel generation because it had not invested enough in wind energy or rooftop solar. Wholesale energy prices have jumped seven-fold to nearly $300/MWh.

Many renewable energy advocates say Tasmania should focus on investing in more renewables before building a second link, noting that if the Basslink was re-connected, the state would rely on imports from the coal-heavy Victoria grid to meet its energy needs until dam levels recovered.

Tasmania has previously suggested that the combination of hydro, and large amounts of wind energy, could deliver up to 1GW of reliable electricity to the mainland.

Turnbull said a second cable would open up the possibility of increased renewable energy exports.

“The combination of hydro power, which is dispatchable at any time, and wind would enable Tasmania to deliver on a much larger scale dispatchable renewable energy right across the nation,” he said. “This has the potential of being a very big significant economic investment and economic opportunity for Tasmania.”

“A second Basslink connection would allow more renewable energy to be exported from Tasmania to the rest of the country during times of abundance, and enhance energy security during unexpected challenges such as the low rainfall currently impacting the state.

“This is a welcome development which will set a benchmark to better assess other opportunities to improve the interconnection of the energy system across the country.

“South Australia, for example, is a leader in the installation of new renewable energy such as solar and wind, and better connection between the different parts of the network would enable ever-greater amounts of clean energy to be easily integrated into the system.”

Former Liberal member for Bass and Howard government minister Warwick Smith will undertake the study, which will also involve the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Energy Market Operator. An interim report is due next month.

The Basslink cable is expected to be restored in mid-June, barring poor weather and other unexpected hurdles.

 

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4 Comments
  1. howardpatr 3 years ago

    Six months to work that out but he seemed to very quickly dismiss negative gearing rorts – but why wouldn’t you when his electorate of Wentworth has the greatest claims for negative gearing losses.

    Cayman Turnbull; a walking disaster in so many ways besides climate change and the renewable energy future.

  2. Brunel 3 years ago

    The 2nd link should be far away from the existing one for the sake of reliability.

    • Geoff James 3 years ago

      Potentially yes, although a cheaper option might be to lay a second cable between the existing conversion stations to make the present link a bipole. That way, if either line breaks, the link can still work at half capacity.

      But I think there is an alternative that should be considered – converting one or more of Tasmania’s hydro systems into pumped hydro storage would allow the state to be reliant on wind power when the dams are low. Meanwhile excess generation could still be exported using the present link. I think this would be a better option for Tasmania.

  3. juxx0r 3 years ago

    Another half gig cable, don’t aim high or anything.

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