State may be the panacea for energy woes

Tasmania may soon be presented with an opportunity to be the saviour for the looming mainland energy crisis.

One would be hard-pressed to find a mainland newspaper sans headlines bemoaning a gas shortage in Australia, or concerns about impending power shortages and skyrocketing prices for consumers.

Barring our own power shortages, our current dam storages provide us with a figurative pot of gold in terms of electricity capacity to share with our northern neighbours via the much-maligned Basslink connector.

It’s worth noting at this point that there is no silver bullet or quick fix for the mainland’s current power woes.

They will be dealing with the fallout for some time to come. So talk of a $270 million wind farm at Granville Harbour on the West Coast capable of producing 99MW (with the potential to increase that to 112MW) gives cause for optimism.

Proponent Westcoast Wind has been negotiating with both Hydro Tasmania and Aurora for some time now and there is an expectation that the project will be approved imminently.

Perhaps even sooner given the current dilemma.

Next week, Premier Will Hodgman will lead a delegation to the nation’s capital to meet with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to discuss options for Tasmania to update and innovate its own hydro system.

His plan, among a number of suggestions, is to explore the option of pumped hydro power.

Pumped hydro involves pumping water from an existing hydro catchment back uphill so it can be used to generate electricity again when needed.

The efficiencies come by using other types of renewables such as wind or solar to power the pumps involved.

Obviously, this type of renewable energy production would require large tracts of funding, with options for assistance through the federal Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

And then of course the state government also has the option of revisiting the proposed King Island wind farm. This $2 billion project, which had the potential to generate a massive 600MW, was ditched in 2014 after Hydro said the project was not economically viable.

Given our current situation, that decision may have been shortsighted.

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