$5m study of Tarraleah’s potential

Hydro Tasmania is investigating a plan to upgrade or replace
the Tarraleah Power Station as part of the “Battery of the
Nation” program.

ONE of Tasmania’s oldest hydro schemes will be transformed under plans to double Tasmania’s clean energy capacity and reduce 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 in the upper reaches of the Derwent Valley.

The proposal would more than double the scheme’s capacity from 104 megawatts (MW) to 220 MW – contributing to the overall boost of 2500 MW planned for Tasmania under Battery of the Nation scheme. By converting the station to a flexible operation, instead of just providing base load power, Hydro Tasmania says it could flexibly boost output at times of high market demand.

The Tarraleah scheme was commissioned in the 1930s and produces about 630 gigawatt hours of energy each year – about 6.5 per cent of Hydro Tasmania’s total production. Feasibility work into the preferred development option (upgrade the station or replace it) is expected to take about 18 months.

Hydro Tasmania says that if it is endorsed, the redevelopment could cost up to $500 million over three years, and support hundreds of engineering and construction jobs in the Derwent Valley and across Tasmania.

“Battery of the Nation is about locking in our island’s energy security and giving Tasmanians the lowest possible power prices. It offers a future that’s clean, reliable and affordable,” Hydro Tasmania chief executive Steve 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,” Mr Davy said. “While pumped hydro and wind power attract most of the attention, getting more electricity from our existing hydropower assets will also be crucial. 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. Hydro Tasmania recently identified 14 options as the state’s best pumped hydro storage opportunities – worth up to 4800 megawatts of capacity. They’ll now be narrowed down to the equivalent to about 2500 megawatts of potential,” Mr Davy said.

“Modelling shows Battery of the Nation and other clean energy opportunities would create up to $5 billion of dollars of investment and 3000 jobs in regional Tasmania over 10 to 15 years.”

Penstocks supplying the power station
with water.

Energy Minister Guy Barnett MHA said future-proofing the Tarraleah power station would deliver significant economic opportunity and create hundreds of engineering and construction jobs in the Derwent Valley and southern Tasmania.

“The redevelopment of Tarraleah further supports the need for increased interconnection with the mainland,” Mr Barnett said. “The Hodgman Liberal Government is committed to its target of achieving the lowest regulated electricity prices in the country by 2022, and to make Tasmanian energy self-sufficient in the same timeframe.

“We know that by investing in projects like Tarraleah, we can achieve our ambitious targets and cement our status as the renewable energy powerhouse of the nation,” he said.

Opened in 1938, Tarraleah was the first power station completed in the Derwent Valley Power Development Scheme approved by the Tasmanian Parliament in 1934. The power station was so important to the state that it was camouflaged during World War II to protect from enemy aircraft.  This was still visible in the 1990s.

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