Tasmania could become Victoria's zero emissions baseload generator | RenewEconomy

Tasmania could become Victoria’s zero emissions baseload generator

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HydroTas boss says Apple Isle could provide 1GW of zero emission ‘baseload’ power through wind and hydro, replacing brown coal generators in Latrobe Valley.

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The island state of Tasmania could become a zero-emissions baseload generator for much of Victoria, removing the need for at least one of the giant brown coal generators in the Latrobe Vally.

That’s the claim of Stephen Davy, the CEO of Hydro Tasmania, which currently exports large amounts of hydro electricity into Victoria at times of high demand.

But Davy says Tasmania could provide the equivalent of 1,000MW of zero-emissions, baseload power generation for Victoria, if it was able to add around 600MW of wind capacity – on either King Island or elsewhere – and if it could double the size of the connection between Tasmania and the mainland.

“We think by that building more wind farms – maybe on King Island, combining that with our hydro plant and whole lot of wind power – we could turn Tasmania into a baseload power station for Victoria,” he told the Clean Energy Week conference in Sydney.

There were a couple of provisos, however. One was the need for clear policy to ensure that ageing coal plants were retired and replaced with cleaner newer technology.

At the moment, however, with the removal of the carbon price and the threat of a serious downgrade to the Renewable Energy Target, those incentives are not in place. Many of the country’s oldest generators were already at the end of their specified operating lives, but were still operated because of a lack of clear policy to ensure they were taken out  of the system.

“The RET needs to be maintained,” Davy said. “41,0000 gigawatt hours is not an ambitious target.” And he said there needs to be policy certainty beyond 2020.

Hydro Tasmania is the only one of the state-owned generators across Australia that wants the RET to be retained. All others, including privately held coal-fired generators, want the RET to be halted, or diluted.

Davy also mocked comments earlier in the day that coal-fired generation had a strong long-term future, and its use would continue to grow, both in Australia and overseas – which appears to be the standard government position. Davy said that no serious analysis supported that view.

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  1. barrie harrop 6 years ago

    power security then subject to bass connection –which has reliability issues.

    • Paul McArdle 6 years ago

      My understanding is that the plan for King Island calls for a duplication of Basslink, which would add to the cost – but provide added export capacity to VIC, and increase reliability.

      To be detailed, along with many other prospective developments, in the “Power Supply Schematic” update for 2014:

      • RobS 6 years ago

        My understanding is the current King Island wind farm plan does not even connect the wind farm to the Tasmanians grid, purely a Victorian interconnect or, ie essentially a Victorian wind farm geographically located in Tasmania.

        • Sean 6 years ago

          I was under the impression that it was the mid way point between tas and i think geelong?

        • Paul McArdle 6 years ago

          Thanks, Rob
          Will double-check before we go to print, but there were some diagrams I’d seen of it going full-distance between TAS and VIC. As with any project, there’ll be various options at this early stage.

          • RobS 6 years ago


            How can TasWind compete with other renewable energy projects when it will involve the costly construction of an undersea cable from King Island to Geelong, not to mention the added costs of transporting most raw materials to King Island for construction?
            King Island is ideally suited for Hydro Tasmania to develop TasWind due to:

            the world class ‘Roaring 40s’ wind resource on the island
            the opportunity for Hydro Tasmania to further invest in Tasmania
            potential to export Tasmanian renewable electricity into a favourable national market
            supporting both the State’s and Hydro Tasmania’s renewable energy vision and strategies
            providing a possible opportunity to connect to Tasmania in the future should it be feasible.

    • RobS 6 years ago

      Care to expand on that Barrie? I have nepot heard of any reliability issues or unplanned drop out of Bass link.

      • barrie harrop 6 years ago

        “Premier Denis Napthine said the problem
        was exacerbated on Wednesday by one of the four generators at Loy Yang A power
        station breaking down, and the Basslink cable between the mainland and Tasmania
        not operating at full capacity for technical reasons.”


        • Sean 6 years ago

          it’s a monopole link. worse, its a monopole link with thermal limitations that are lower than what we regularly achieve in Victoria.

          most network infrastructure is n-1, meaning you can loose one link and still have the power on. only having 1 link means you are very exposed. It might surprise most people that power links go down all the time, but redundancy is built in so that usually it does not affect the supply of power.

          HVDC has advanced significantly in the 10 years since Basslink went in.

  2. Tony Pfitzner 6 years ago

    I wonder if Jacqui Lambie even knows what Hydro Tasmania is. She might show a little less exuberance around axing the carbon price.

  3. Thylacine 6 years ago

    Tony, I couldn’t agree more. Jacquie Lambie’s glee about the axing of the carbon tax showed she has absolutely no understanding of what is in the best interests of Tasmanians. However, her more recent odious comments, about preferring her men well heeled and well hung indicates she is an embarrassment who hopefully will be elected for only one term then long forgotten.

    • Vandemonian 6 years ago

      Yes, Ms Lambie’s glee was over the top but it should be remembered that there were six (excluding the president) other senators (Liberal) that voted for the repeal of the carbon tax, so they are equally responsible for not putting the best interests of Tasmania first and foremost, Ms Lambie does not stand alone on that issue.

      • Tony Pfitzner 6 years ago

        But my point is that Ms Lambie is a Taswegian – so she ought to stick up for her own state.

        • Vandemonian 6 years ago

          I couldn’t agree more Tony, my point was there were six other Tasmanian senators that voted the same way that Ms Lambie did. In other words, they were representing their political parties views and not their state. I suppose that the bigger joke for Ms Lambie is that her party boss is a mining magnate from Queensland who couldn’t care less about Tasmania.

          • Tony Pfitzner 6 years ago

            Point taken – I need to bone up on the state affiliations of other senators.

    • Chris Fraser 6 years ago

      In the meantime, guys that are well hung are having sexual fantasies involving Jacqui Lambie.

    • Sean 6 years ago

      Well heeled and well hung conjures images of Tim Curry in fishnets.

  4. juxx0r 6 years ago

    Maybe instead of banging on about it, Stephen could have used the $238M profit from last year and just got on with the job?

    • Paul McArdle 6 years ago

      Would have been a start, but needs many times that profit figure for a 600MW wind farm and new DC sub-sea connection

  5. Chris Fraser 6 years ago

    I sincerely wish for the best outcome for Hydro Tas. Though the proviso to urge ageing coal generators to leave the Victorian grid is not necessarily required if consumers find a retailer that only buys Hydro’s clean generation. If those consumers appear in numbers, the mud burners have to take themselves off. Little by little …

  6. Winston 6 years ago

    Did Steve forget ’09, ’10 and ’11 when his predecessor was filling up Hydro Tas’s reservoirs after the drought (and before the carbon price)? Plenty of brown coal electricity heading down Basslink then.

    And he wants to shut down some Victorian coal generation? Is that wise, Steve, given that storage levels are down to ’08 end-of-drought levels (~4000 GWh)?

    By all means, build some more wind farms. But please, pop the energy into storage instead of raising prices for Tasmanians by exporting. We’ll take a bit more notice when Steve stops acting like a peaker. In the renewable grid, hydro is the critical stabiliser, but it won’t work if its operators spend all day playing arbitrage games.

    • Sean 6 years ago

      More connection to the rest of the NEM will encourage economic development (building wind farms) in tas, which will also reduce the amount of power produced by hydro during strong wind events. (saving water for later)

      the problem with government schemes like the carbon tax facing political opposition is that people will act on short term interests. It will be interesting to see what happens to hydro production in tasmania once the tax repeals are implemented.

      I dont know if the snow that has been dumped in vic and NSW has found its way to tas, but that could also boost the amount of water stored.

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