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.
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.”