Aussie State Tasmania Declares itself 100% Renewable Power


That time when greens once opposed wilderness destruction and dams. The Anti Frankin Dam protests in Tasmania led to the formation of the Tasmanian Green Party

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

100% renewable, except when Tasmania’s politicians run down their hydro dams to critical low levels selling green electrons to the mainland, burn out the undersea inter-connector with excessive current, and have to fire up emergency diesel generators.

Tasmania declares itself 100 per cent powered by renewable electricity

Michael Mazengarb 
27 November 2020

The Tasmania government has declared that it has become the first Australian state, and one of just a handful of jurisdictions worldwide, to be powered entirely by renewable electricity.

In a statement released on Friday, Tasmanian energy minister Guy Barnett said that state had effectively become entirely self-sufficient for supplies of renewable electricity, supplied by the state’s wind and hydroelectricity projects.

“We have reached 100 per cent thanks to our commitment to realising Tasmania’s renewable energy potential through our nation-leading energy policies and making Tasmania attractive for industry investment, which in turn is creating jobs across the State, particularly in our regions,” Barnett said.

Tasmania has long had one of the greenest supplies of electricity in Australia, with the state’s significant hydroelectricity resources supplying the bulk of the state’s power. Tasmania’s history with hydroelectricity dates back to 1895, with the Duck Reach power plant in Launceston becoming the first publicly owned hydroelectric power station in the southern hemisphere.

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What about that burned out interconnector?

Tasmania grid struggles with drought, bushfires, lost connection

Giles Parkinson 25 January 2016 

Tasmania’s electricity grid is facing its biggest challenge in years, with its hydro storage about to fall to its lowest levels ever, bushfires forcing the closure of some power facilities, and a faulty cable cutting the connection between the island and the country’s main electricity grid.

The Apple Isle’s main source of electricity – hydro power – is being challenged by its driest ever spring, pushing reserves down to just 18.9 per cent.

The lowest level ever is 16.5 per cent, reached in 2007, but overall storage levels are predicted to fall to a low of 14 per cent by the end of March – if normal rainfall patterns resume. At current rates, however, some fear they may fall below those levels, although there has been some light rain in recent days.

To make matters worse, the Basslink cable linking the island’s grid to the mainland has been cut by technical problems, and will probably remain closed for another two months, while the raging bushfires have threatened power lines and forced the temporary closure of at least four hydro plants.

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I guess the lesson is if most of your state is a giant mountainous watershed you can build enough hydro to go 100% renewable. So not an option for most parts of the world.

Having said that, even the cold, rainy island state of Tasmania suffers droughts. If they have drained their dams selling green electrons to the mainland, and the rains fail, all it takes is a little of their regular undersea inter-connector trouble at the wrong time and they’re back to expensive diesel power. So not quite 100% renewable then.

And of course we’re quietly ignoring the fact Tasmania imports a lot of energy intensive goods.

The saddest part of this story, most of the green campaigners who risked their lives opposing bulldozing and flooding pristine wilderness during the 70s and 80s hydro construction projects have pretty much sold out to the idea of big green. Most of them are now fully on board with concreting the Tasmanian watershed.

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