Tasmania's eye on full renewable energy by 2022, but work still to be done on securing supply
Recommendations from an energy security taskforce, set up in the wake of Tasmania's 2015 power crisis, will be fully implemented within months, with the State Government acknowledging the need for a more "conservative" approach.
Low rainfall in that year combined with the sudden breakage of the undersea Basslink power cable between Tasmania and the mainland plunged the state into a six-month-long energy crisis.
The State Government received the taskforce's final report in June, and released it on Wednesday.
It said there were currently no immediate threats to energy security, with dam levels at about 39 per cent.
The report recommended establishing "more rigorous and widely understood framework" to manage water storages.
"This framework makes it clear when (state-owned energy company) Hydro Tasmania can operate freely within its commercial interests and those occasions where it needs to take increasing steps to redress/avoid energy security risks," the report said.
The previous Labor-Green government legislated a minimum dam storage level of 25 per cent to allow Hydro to maximise profits while the carbon tax was in place.
After the energy crisis the Liberal government ordered a return to a minimum of 30 per cent.
"I don't think there's any doubt that its been important to adopt a more conservative approach," Energy Minister Matthew Groom said.
"The taskforce made their position on that clear very early on, and Hydro Tasmania have been operating under a more conservative dam storage arrangement."
Hydro Tasmania welcomed the recommendations as "robust and responsible", saying it was rebounding from the tough financial year of 2015/16 by restoring profitability and reducing debt.
Higher minimum storage as gas negotiations drag on
As with a Public Accounts Committee report which made a similar finding, the Energy Security Taskforce recommended holding on to the gas-fired Tamar Valley Power Station in the short term.
The Government had already foreshadowed arbitration over a long, and so far fruitless, negotiation between Hydro and the Tasmanian Gas Pipeline about the gas supply contract.
The taskforce recommended should the contract not be resolved in the short term dam storage minimums should be adjusted upwards from the beginning of the dry summer.
Hydro said it expected to "comfortably exceed" its target of 40 per cent storage levels by the beginning of summer, with the head of the energy security taskforce stating that would be "sufficient".
Tasmania to be self-sufficient in renewables by 2022
The awaited release of the taskforce's final report coincided with the Government announcing a plan to increase Tasmania's renewable energy generation so the island is completely self-sufficient.
Currently 93 per cent of the power Tasmania uses is renewable, predominantly from hydro-generated electricity.
Those projects are expected to be up and running around 2020, with the Tasmanian Government wanting to meet its new target by 2022.
Thursday, August 24, 2017
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