Tarraleah hydro scheme upgrade powers ahead


One of Tasmania’s oldest hydro schemes will be transformed under plans to double Tasmania’s clean energy capacity and secure the lowest possible power prices.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has provided $2.5 million, matched by Hydro Tasmania, for a feasibility assessment into upgrading or replacing the Tarraleah Power Station.

The proposal would more than double the scheme’s capacity from 104MW to 220MW – contributing to the overall boost of 2500MW planned for Tasmania under Battery of the Nation.

Replacement would also transform the Tarraleah scheme into a state-of-the-art hydropower asset, perfectly suited for Australia’s changing energy system.

Hydro Tasmania CEO Steve Davy said the upgrade would add stability and flexibility to Australia’s future clean energy market.

“Battery of the Nation is about locking in our island’s energy security and giving Tasmanians the lowest possible power prices,” Mr Davy said.

“Doubling Tasmania’s clean energy would also create a surplus, beyond our island’s needs, to support mainland Australia.

“That’s crucial to replace the coal power that’s being phased out.

“While pumped hydro and wind power attract most of the attention, getting more electricity from our existing hydropower assets will also be crucial.

“This upgrade will also transform Tarraleah into Tasmania’s first truly 21st century hydropower station.”

The Tarraleah scheme in the Central Highlands was commissioned in the 1930s and produces about 630GWh of energy each year – about 6.5 per cent of Hydro Tasmania’s total production.

The pre-feasibility study found redeveloping Tarraleah to optimise its capacity would be the most viable option to support demand on an energy market that has a variable level of renewable energy.

“The Turnbull Government is committed to securing Tasmania’s energy supply and these feasibility studies help us investigate future development opportunities,” Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said.

“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.”

Feasibility work into the preferred option (upgrade or replace) is expected to take about 18 months.

The redevelopment could cost up to $500 million throughout three years, and support hundreds of engineering and construction jobs in the Derwent Valley and across Tasmania.

Hydro Tasmania recently identified 14 options as the state’s best pumped hydro storage opportunities – worth up to 4800MW of capacity.

Hydro Tasmania’s Future State NEM report also confirms Battery of the Nation is an extremely viable and cost-competitive option for supporting Australia’s future energy needs.