Tasmania’s bid to become the ‘battery of the nation’ gained some substance this week, with plans to redevelop one of the state’s oldest hydro power stations winning renewed federal government support.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency said on Thursday it had granted up to $2.5 million in funding to Hydro Tasmania to complete a $5 million final feasibility study into the proposed redevelopment of the Tarraleah hydropower scheme in Tasmania’s highlands.
The project, if found to be technically and economically feasible, would more than double Tarraleah’s capacity from 104MW to 220MW, and 20 hours of storage in one cycle.
Hydro Tasmania CEO Steve Davy said the upgrade would also serve as a good starting point for the state’s broader ‘Battery of the Nation’ plans, which – as we have reported – are focused on developing a up to 2.5MW of new pumped hydro capacity, and new wind power projects.
“While pumped hydro and wind power attract most of the attention, getting more electricity from our existing hydropower assets will also be crucial,” he said.
“We can start by finding another 116 MW from Tarraleah. This upgrade will also transform Tarraleah into Tasmania’s first truly 21st century hydropower station – adding stability and flexibility to Australia’s future clean energy market.”
The new Tarraleah study follows up on a pre-feasibility study, also backed by ARENA, that found that boosting the 19030s built plant – which currently generates around 6.5 per cent of Hydro Tasmania’s annual output – would support a future with higher levels of variable renewable generation.
“The report helps our understanding of future development opportunities in Tasmania and how they could make a larger contribution to the National Electricity Market (NEM),” said ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht in comments on Thursday.
“Tarraleah can play an integral part in Tasmania’s Battery of the Nation initiative, setting up a blueprint for increasing the state’s renewable resources to support the future NEM,” he said.
The new feasibility study is expected to take about 18 months, Hydro Tasmania said, with the preferred option of redeveloping the Tarraleah plant expected to cost up to $500 million over three years.
Federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg said the redevelopment project – if it went ahead – would create hundreds of jobs across the Derwent Valley and Tasmania.
“The potential redevelopment of the Tarraleah Power Station builds on the identification of 14 high potential pumped hydro energy storage sites across Tasmania, which early modelling shows, if developed, would create up to $5 billion of investment and around 3000 regional jobs,” he added.