Hydro Tasmania CEO Steve Davey, right, and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency CEO Ivor Frischknecht

The $5 billion energy plan that would double Tasmania’s energy capacity and make the state the renewable Battery of the Nation, is gaining momentum.

A shortlist of about 30 potential pumped hydro energy storage sites has been identified across regional areas, including four existing power stations, as experts attempt to increase the state’s hydro output to 2,500 megawatts.

Funding from the $2.5 million Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) of $800,000 has recently been committed to help narrow the list to between 10 and 15 possible development sites.

Hydro Tasmania CEO Steve Davy and CEO of ARENA, Ivor Frischknecht, recently inspected one of the possible conversion sites, the Cethana Power Station in north-west Tasmania, which has already been assessed as having some of the best pumped hydro potential in Tasmania (up to 1,000MW).

Mr Davy said Tasmania was uniquely placed to help lead Australia through its challenging energy transition.

“The Battery of the Nation is about energy security and affordable prices,” Mr Davy said.

“Doubling Tasmania’s renewable energy capacity addresses three big challenges at once.

“It will lock in full energy security for Tasmania, help give Tasmanians some of the nation’s cheapest power prices, and give us plenty of spare energy to support mainland Australia.

“At a time when Australia badly needs flexible and storable energy to replace the coal power it’s phasing out, the Battery of the Nation offers a future that’s clean, reliable and affordable,” he said.

ARENA CEO, Ivor Frischknecht, said the Battery of the Nation studies, along with feasibility studies into Snowy Hydro 2.0, would examine how pumped hydro energy storage could play an expanded role in Australia’s energy mix, and help accelerate the transition to renewable energy.

“With these projects, we could double Tasmania’s pumped hydro capacity and help power an additional 500,000 households. Tasmania could play a crucial role in helping to provide secure, reliable – and renewable – electricity for the National Energy Market,” Mr Frischknecht said.

Hydro Tasmania has ruled-out developing any pumped hydro sites in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area, and is not investigating new on-river dams.

The State Government welcomed the ARENA funding, which will be matched by Hydro.

The entire project could create up to $5 billion of infrastructure investment and up to 3000 jobs across a 10-to-15 year construction period