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.