Tasmania's chance to be Australia's hydropower battery cannot be allowed to go flat

It is wonderful to see Tasmania’s nation-leading hydro electricity scheme getting the recognition it deserves.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was in the state this week to rebadge the Apple Isle as the “battery” of Australia.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency will support a Hydro Tasmania feasibility study into options to increase the state’s supply of power to the national energy grid.

Pumped hydro schemes, where water is pumped back up hill after power generation and stored, would be examined for several of the state’s schemes.

An expanded Tasmanian hydro scheme could generate enough power for 500,000 homes.

On the back of South Australia’s energy security woes and the shut down of the Hazelwood power station in Victoria, Mr Turnbull has made renewable energy a big policy item.

In March he announced a $2 billion plan to expand the Snowy Mountain scheme along similar lines as this week’s Tasmanian announcement.

Plans to build on that world-class renewable energy reputation and place Tasmania at the forefront of the nation’s electricity supply needs, is very exciting.

It should also strengthen the case for a second Basslink cable to supply power to the national energy grid at peak times.

The “battery of the nation” is an excellent slogan, but one must, of course, treat any plan that is big on catchphrases and smaller on detail with caution.

It was not long ago that political leaders were spruiking the “food bowl of the nation” as Tasmania's next panacea.

Opposition energy spokesman Scott Bacon seized on the announcement of another feasibility study to point out the government’s inaction on renewable energy.

He is correct to say that governments too often confuse the plan to have a plan with actual policy and direction.

But industry experts believe it is an achievable option and one that the state must embrace to keep Hydro Tasmania a leading provider of renewable energy.

This idea cannot be allowed to slip through Tasmania’s sluice gates.

Premier Will Hodgman said the state planned to invest about $1 billion over the next 10 years to maintain and refurbish existing hydro power assets.

Electric Eric would be pleased that political leaders are continuing his visionary work – but they must deliver his results.