Tasmania’s ‘Battery of the Nation’ study kicks off

Strathgordon Dam

Feasibility studies to make Tasmania the ‘battery of the nation’ are underway.

The studies, funded by ARENA and Hydro Tasmania, will assess the feasibility of expanding and redeveloping two hydro-electric power stations, the Tarraleah Power Station and Gordon Power Station, and identify 15 high-potential pumped hydro energy storage (PHES) sites in the state.

A third study focusing on expanding Tasmania’s role in supporting the National Electricity Market (NEM), through increased pumped hydro energy storage and wind power, is being scoped.

Hydro Tasmania CEO Steve Davy said Tasmania is uniquely placed to help lead Australia through its challenging energy transition.

“At the moment, about 80 per cent of Australia’s electricity comes from coal-fired plants that will eventually close,” Mr Davy said.

“Tasmania currently provides about five per cent of Australia’s electricity.

“By boosting our hydropower system, further developing our world-class wind power, and increasing interconnection, we could grow our contribution significantly.

“As Australia’s largest generator of renewable energy, Hydro has the skills and experience to drive an energy future that’s clean, reliable and affordable.”

The two-stage concept study is exploring the potential for pumped hydro energy storage across Tasmania, which could increase generation capacity by 2.5GW.

This initial stage, jointly funded with $300,000 from ARENA, has identified high-potential pumped hydro sites across Tasmania.

A shortlist of 30 potential sites are being considered based on technical feasibility and topography, environmental sensitivity, land use constraints, road access and access to grid, proximity to existing renewable energy assets, construction risks and capital costs.

The next stage will involve a full pre-feasibility assessment of 10 to 15 shortlisted pumped hydro sites across Tasmania.

ARENA has committed up to $2.5 million, to be matched by Hydro Tasmania, towards the Battery of the Nation feasibility studies.

ARENA chief executive officer Ivor Frischknecht said the studies would examine how pumped hydro could play an expanded role in Australia’s energy mix and help accelerate the nation’s transition to renewable energy.

“These feasibility studies are the first step towards significantly upgrading or replacing some of Tasmania’s existing power stations and introducing pumped hydro energy storage,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“With these projects, we could more than double Tasmania’s hydro capacity and power an additional 500,000 households.”

Hydro Tasmania is conducting pre-feasibility studies into the redevelopment of the Tarraleah Power Scheme and the augmentation of the Gordon Power Station.

The iconic Tarraleah Power Station in the Derwent Valley is more than 80 years old.

The Tarraleah redevelopment would involve building a new power station, which would cost up to $650 million and increase the energy output by up to 200GWh a year.

The augmentation of the 432MW Gordon Power Station would involve building a new turbine at Tasmania’s largest power station.

To manage environmental water flows, one of the largest turbines is currently being run at very low efficiency.

This augmentation would allow more efficient generation from existing environmental water flows to the Gordon River.

The initial stages of these studies, jointly funded by ARENA and Hydro Tasmania at a cost of $1 million, will be completed by the end of the year.

Based on the outcomes of the studies, construction on augmentation of the Gordon Power Station could commence in 2018.