Tasmania Labor proposes 500MW of renewables to boost energy security | RenewEconomy

Tasmania Labor proposes 500MW of renewables to boost energy security

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Tas Labor proposes 500MW of wind and solar, $20m for battery storage, and $20m for electric and hydrogen vehicles.

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Woolnorth wind farm, Tasmania
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Tasmania Labor has unveiled a renewable energy plan to build an additional 500MW of large-scale wind and solar capacity to reinforce the island’s energy security, following the supply crisis of the past six months, and to boost economic development.

wind and solar

Opposition Leader Bryan Green used his budget reply speech on Tuesday to unveil the Tasmania 500MW plan, which he said would tap up to $200 million in financing from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to meet its targets, and be implemented through a reverse auction scheme mechanism pioneered by the ACT government.

“Unleashing investment in new large-scale wind, solar and other renewable developments is vital to the state’s economy,” Green said in his speech. Labor based its  forecasts on 75 per cent wind and 25 per cent solar.

Tasmania Labor and others have been critical of the Tasmanian government for not installing enough wind and solar, a situation which forced it to restart its gas-fired generator and import expensive diesel gen-sets when the link to the mainland was lost in December, and drought caused dam levels to fall to a record low.

The cost of wholesale electricity when gas and diesel has been used has been more than three times the cost of wind energy.

“The Hodgman government’s response to the energy crisis has been characterised entirely by short-term thinking,” Green said in his speech. “(Wind and solar) will assist our hydro-electric system to return to healthy storage levels and will boost the confidence of our major industrial businesses.

“It will create thousands of new jobs and increase economic activity around Tasmania and allow Tasmania to reclaim its title as an international leader in renewable energies.”

The Labor policy also includes a plan for low interest loans to support commercial-scale solar installations and community solar grids. It says this will allow more homes and businesses to benefit directly from behind the meter renewable energy installations.

In addition, Labor says it will forego $20 million in dividends from the state-owned grid operator TasNetworks to invest in battery storage trials and developments, and leverage $1 dollar of private investment for every public dollar spent.



It says storage will be needed at the transmission level and the distribution level, to accommodate new electricity uses from charging stations as well as excess power from distributed solar generation.

Labor is also proposing $20 million of investment in electric and hydrogen vehicles to try to reduce the $1 billion the state currently spends on importing petrol and diesel for road transport.

“To achieve the vision of becoming truly self-sufficient, over time we need to steadily decrease our reliance on fossil fuels,” the document says. “This will not happen overnight, but it requires leadership and innovation on the part of Government to make emerging technologies accessible to the masses.”

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36 Comments
  1. Geoff 4 years ago

    It is ironic that Bob Hawke’s Labor and the Greens effectively shut down expansion of the Tasmanian Hydro industry in the early 1980s. Tasmania ticks all the boxes for Hydro. What could have been. Even today Labor prefers solar over Hydro. Go figure.
    Just another example of ALP decisions still being made based on ideology instead of sound engineering practicalities and outcomes.

    • Mark 4 years ago

      Given your deliberate ignorance of the environmental costs of hydro – including carbon emissions – I think accusations of ideology over balanced decision making could be mad a little closer to home. (And that really is an irony.)

      • Geoff 4 years ago

        Carbon emissions from Hydro? I wait with great anticipation to hear the logic gymnastics to support that theory. What makes solar panels and windmills ( and replaces them every decade or two)? You guessed it coal, iron ore, open cut mined rare minerals, fossil fuel transport on water and land from China…… And do it all again in 10-20 years. Also don’t forget the fossil fuels to run the wind mills, gearboxes and bearings need regular oil changes ( gearboxes and bearings 100+ metres up in the air?) not like servicing the old Holden is it?
        The penny is already starting to drop when the bankers consider funding proposals to replace ageing windmills….

        • Barri Mundee 4 years ago

          Funny I thought coal fire power were being not being funded by the bankers. Yet more and more wind is being added across the globe as its cheap to run once installed. Coal fire stations also need regular maintenance. I know as it used to work in one. Maintenance is never-ending as boilers need to be cleaned, tubes leak forcing shutdowns for repairs and as the plant ages, eventually reaching an end of economic life. Wind turbines need maintenance of course but much less often than coal powered stations.

          • Cooma Doug 4 years ago

            Where did you work Barry.
            I spent a lot of time across the grid in all manner of PS.

          • Barri Mundee 4 years ago

            At the SEC of Victoria, both in the Latrobe Valley and Melbourne. In later stages of my career I worked at the Loy Yang A station, now AGL Loy Yang.

          • Cooma Doug 4 years ago

            My first walk through Loy Yang A many years ago made me shake my head. I remember saying to my tech assistant “this crap will catch up to us at some point”. I was stunned by the dirty process.

            I was on the Commissioning team for the 500 mw unit 8 at Wallerra Wang back in the days when they were building coal power stations like we now build apppartments.

            My last 30 years was operating renewables.

        • Barri Mundee 4 years ago

          Sorry Geoff but the arguments you put have been debated and debunked many times. This stuff of yours is more the sort of “baiting” and diversionary tactics that are characteristic of FF trolls.

          • Geoff 4 years ago

            As I suspected you don’t have a response. CO2 from Hydro. Mate that is a tough gig to justify. As I said before. Ironic that Greens cannot accept Hydro as the true renewable energy and is why your arguments are ridiculed.

        • Ian 4 years ago

          The carbon emissions from hydro dams are from the decaying vegetation submerged by the dam waters and is apparently very significant. Others might expand on this point as it is a valid one.

          More importantly , as others have shown, Tasmania has already cherry-picked the best hydro sites and the remaining ones have a high environmental cost with far less payback.

      • Cooma Doug 4 years ago

        Pumping hydro on the Australian grid has been the most emmission intense use of energy ever undertaken on the grid. The process used to keep brown coal stations in service over night…a difficult task in a base load coal ps grid.
        It is true that pumping when we have a 100% green energy system will be totally clean.
        However, because of the costs and dispersion of load across the system and innovation of new load side technology, the need for it will be greatly reduced.

        • Tom 4 years ago

          As far as I know Tumut 3 is the only reversible power station. 1500MW – pretty good. The cycle (pump – drop) is 80% efficient.

          Yes it allows brown coal to burn overnight to supply the pumps, but without it an extra 1500MW power station will have been built. The same amount of coal would still be burned (maybe more as it takes a couple of hours to ramp up the energy after it’s fired up), but a whole extra power station would have been built.

          Tassie’s hydro is a bit different – far more energy in storage than the Snowy if only they allowed the dams to actually build up instead of selling it as soon as it rains.

          • Cooma Doug 4 years ago

            T3 is an 1800 MW ps.
            There are three of the units as pumps. They can pump at 195 each.
            Market forces are such that it is a rare event but a wonderful piece of infrastructure. Gens were upgraded to higher output but not the pumps.
            They may be more active during the transition. I certainly expect so when the politics gets real and the uptake of wind starts again.

    • Cooma Doug 4 years ago

      People often say…hydro is energy already stored and sitting there in the dams. It is true. It is Gwhs of energy at our finger tips. So why would we spend money on solar with batteries to store energy when we already have Gwhs?
      The reason is very simple and when you have a good look at the evidence and market experience on the Australian grid, it becomes very clear.
      Geoff, if you wish to explain to us here why the opposite is true in your view, I will respond.

      • Geoff 4 years ago

        Cooma. Exactly correct. I read an article about a rail system where rail cars of rocks are driven up an incline by solar/wind energy and then let roll down the incline to add electricity to the grid. Before finishing the first paragraph of the report a myriad of reasons why this doesn’t work spring to mind. There are similar attempts to use off peak power to pump water back up into dams to be used later to generate electricity. ffs what are these people thinking about as dumb as setting up banks of batteries to store “excess” solar and wind electricity. As you say Cooma water delivered to dams via tributaries or catchments has the gravitational energy already stored. Really? Give the game away if you can’t understand Hydro.

    • Ian 4 years ago

      There are many more reasons for not damming the Franklin River than emissions reduction….. such as biodiversity and cultural heritage which were saved by labor and the future Greens leader Bob Brown and friends
      .
      They used very sound cultural and environmental judgement.
      Implementing solar and wind would be an extension of that sound judgement for the big picture of saving what is valuable…. Nature culture and climate

      • Ian 4 years ago

        Hear,hear different Ian. Hydro in Tasmania is once through and plentiful to a point. It does not need to run 24/7 and do the Baseload thing. Plenty of wind and solar generation capacity will save water stored in the dams by displacing the need for hydro generation at the time when solar and wind are generating energy, and freeing hydro to generate more power at other times. By working in harmony, wind, hydro and solar can effectively double or triple the current yearly energy output and have constant baseLOAD or variable load following or be as dispatchable as they desire.

        The money that they plan to put into battery storage may be better spent on beefing up the hydro turbines and generators to pump out more electricity at non solar and wind times.

        This is the thing good Geoff may be missing, the existing storage capacity of the dams can conserved by leveraging wind and solar. No need to drown out more wilderness areas, use what dam capacity is already there, but more of it for less time!

        If existing dam capacity is D MWH and this is used 24/365 the maximum energy production is D MWH less a bit for efficiencies. Now if the same dam capacity is coupled with solar and wind in large quantities hydro may only be needed for a third of the time. The total system will now produce 3 x D MWH ( less efficiency losses) reliable 24/365 power.

        Elementary my Dear Watson, Elementary!

        The beauty of using hydro for its dispatchability is that it is not used when every other source is fighting for market share and driving wholesale prices down but is used when other renewables sit embarrassingly silent and wholesale prices are higher. Hydro is king and can pick and choose its power generation moments.

        • Cooma Doug 4 years ago

          The technologies on the load side of the meter will be able to flatten the profile through the day.
          Then we do better by having optimum efficient hydro generation rather then big and quick. Big and quick is hugely valuable hydro in a grid based on large coal. But when you manage load changes on the other side of the meter, when the HV wholesale market becomes a flat line, all the business value and incentives are in the home, the factory and the big buildings.

      • Geoff 4 years ago

        ….what a toss. Bob just hates progress. Wants us all to live his sad lifestyle.

    • Barri Mundee 4 years ago

      You mean the ideology of relying almost entirely on a limited resource that was shown to be vulnerable to droughts and climate change as opposed to the ideology of a portfolio approach to energy security?

    • Brian Tehan 4 years ago

      Actually “75% wind, 25% solar” which makes perfect sense in Tasmania, the windiest state in Australia. It’s sound engineering to use Tasmania’s abundant wind to complement the hydro, especially after the recent drought. PV is another complementary technology – when it’s dry, it’s sunny. Good engineering practice is not to put all your eggs in one basket – as recently demonstrated.

      • Geoff 4 years ago

        Fair dinkum Brian I wonder how confident you would be having major surgery in a Tasmanian hospital at night on a windless night and State of Origin is being played. Why is it you guys always seem to have to overhype windmills and solar panels. They have their place but cannot provide on demand base load. The more you deny this the more irrelevant your arguing positions become. In the recent event Tasmania was eternally grateful for Victorian Brown Coal Electricity generation ……same as South Australia BTW….keep your minds open guys.

        • Barri Mundee 4 years ago

          Nothing wrong with hydro, its a great source of energy. The point that I and others make though is to conserve that precious water wherever possible by using other renewables such as wind and solar. Relying as much on hydro as in Tassie with the dry period DID run the risk of the lights going out due to the problem with Basslink. And large users had to be asked to curtail their power demand to conserve water needed for hydro.

          • Ian 4 years ago

            Dammit your right Barri , you just have to keep plugging this ridiculously simple point : conserve hydro using solar and wind when it’s available. Do we have to make this into a Mantra before this sinks in? No one denies that hydro is great at long term baseload-type power generation but it is so much more than that. It’s dispatchable. At short notice it can be turned on or off. It’s not dependent on sunshine or wind to operate . Heck it’s hardly dependent in the short term on rain. It’s that dependable. Wind and solar are cheap , do not wreck the environment much, are rapidly deployable, and can extend the positive features of hydro by conserving water. In Tasmania’s case a winning combination.

        • Charles 4 years ago

          Conveniently forgetting the existing hydro which is about 80% of generation there Geoff?

    • Alistair Spong 4 years ago

      It’s ironic that the Greens are being attacked for not building more of something that ran dry this year and will again in the future , unlike wind and solar which in comparison to destroying vast tracks of wilderness by daming, has almost zero ecological impact

      • Geoff 4 years ago

        Alistair. The reasons for Tasmania running out of Hydro are well documented. The connector to the mainland failed, El Niño which means less rainfall and most importantly Tas Hydro made a killing financially by selling more into the mainland electricity market. Bad management. If the greens had not (Ironically) curtailed Hydro development then there would be plenty to go around. Tasmania would today be the leading clean energy producer. Ironic. Hydro, if you have the topography, is the ultimate clean renewable electricity. Non of this imported, fossil fuel intensive manufacure of solar panels and windmills in China.

        • Ian 4 years ago

          If only Tassie could have used another of its abundant resources- wind energy, the hydro could have lasted through the drought.

          • Geoff 4 years ago

            You missed the point. Tas Hydro over sold it resources to exploit the crazy spot prices. Just poor management and too much focus on cash instead of energy security. What could have been. Tasmania could have been the worlds standout performer for true renewable energy. Exporting and even replacing some of the brown coal generation.
            Interesting to note at the same time Victoria was building the Thompson River Dam. Not hydro suited but holds 10 years supply if water for Melbourne.
            Has protected Melbourne from the drought cycle 3 or 4 times since. Vision. Pity Bob didn’t have vision.

            http://www.melbournewater.com.au/waterdata/waterstorages/weekly-water-update/pages/weekly-water-update.aspx

        • Charles 4 years ago

          If the additional dam was built, who knows what might have happened. Perhaps due to lack of demand, we wouldn’t have built the wind farms in the 90s/2000s? Then over the past few months we would be stuck with empty dams AND fewer alternative generators.

          • Geoff 4 years ago

            A missed opportunity. Tasmania could have been the renewable powerhouse. Bob Brown has a lot to answer for. His hatred of Tasmania Hydro clouded his judgement. If you view Bob’s positions over the years it is littered with cluster fuck decisions.

    • Tom 4 years ago

      Gordon Below Franklin would only have produced 180MW of long-term average output and would have not stored much itself in terms of GWH. It would have increased the storage capacity (in terms of GWH, not litres of course) of Lake Gordon/ Pedder by about 40% as water from Gordon Power station would be re-used in this second power station with a lower head.

      If Lake Gordon had been run empty by spring of 2015 with Gordon Below Franklin in existence (which it would have been because the same strategy of selling through Basslink would have prevailed) then Tassie would have still been in exactly the same situation.

      PS – GBF, and maybe one more further upstream the Franklin, are the only undeveloped opportunities of large-scale hydro in Tassie. The Arthur river is too low-relief, the southern rivers are too small, and all the other decent-sized rivers are developed.

  2. john 4 years ago

    Hydrogen vehicles are a total dud, who ever made this comment has not got a clue

    • Alistair Spong 4 years ago

      And yet Toyota Japan has lofty goals and ppssibly exisiting commercial vehicles .I think university of Tasmania may have some investment in research – I remember a hydrogen fueled motorbike some years back – the Germans too are looking at what to do with excess wind energy and have some interesting research projects – far from a dud and could possibly be part of the mix for a particular country state or geographic locale – we can’t get bogged down in thinking that one technology provides all the answers in every place

      • nakedChimp 4 years ago

        P2G does have 3 avenues.. and only one of them ends in pure hydrogen, the other 2 end either in Methane or some modified form of biogas.
        Hydrogen for vehicles won’t take off, the BEV is already better and cheaper. Even the Japanese will see that at some point.

  3. onesecond 4 years ago

    Coupling hydro storage with wind and solar should be a no brainer and the clear economic winner.

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