Energy heavyweights, from left, Arena CEO Ivor Frischknecht, State Energy Minister Guy Barnett, Braddon Liberal candidate Brett Whitely, Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, Premier Will Hodgman and Hydro CEO Steve Davy.

By Minister for Energy Guy Barnett

Tasmania has already established itself as the nation’s number one renewable state, but we have an opportunity to take our potential to the next level.

A range of exciting initiatives have been announced which will unlock Tasmania’s nation-leading potential in renewable energy.

A report released by Australia’s leading renewable energy body, ARENA, identified 14 ‘high potential’ pumped energy storage sites in our Central Highlands and on the North and West Coasts.

Combined, they could deliver up to 4800 megawatts of new energy capacity. The next step is to narrow down these 14 high potential sites to ‘executable’ projects estimated to deliver 2500 megawatts, which is double the existing hydro electric capacity.

Make no mistake, this is a game-changing, state-building, nation-leading discovery and underpins the future of the energy sector in both Tasmania and Australia.

With the potential to create up to 3000 jobs and generate up to $5 billion in investment, this is an incredible leap forward.

Following this announcement, a second report released by ARENA cemented what many here in Tasmania already knew – confirming that we can deliver the lowest energy costs in the nation.

This report confirmed that Tasmania’s strategic advantages should make a pumped hydro investment a national priority. In fact married with new interconnection they become ‘nation building infrastructure projects’ according to Federal Energy Minister, Josh Frydenberg.

As more coal fired power stations retire and more intermittent renewables such as wind enter the market, a reliable energy source is required to fill that gap.

Tasmania’s geography and topography and the location of our existing hydro assets make our state strategically placed to deliver low cost, 100 per cent renewable dispatchable power – energy on tap!

Currently, we have 30 power stations spread across the heart of Tasmania. This infrastructure was established through decades of toil and innovation by our forebears over the great era in Tasmanian history known as ‘hydro-industrialisation’.

We are entering a new era characterised by pumped hydro energy storage, which is now regarded as the most mature electrical energy storage system in the world, accounting for 97% of energy storage worldwide.

Pumped hydro energy storage is Next Generation Hydro for Tasmania.

Put simply, it involves pumping water uphill to a storage reservoir and releasing it through a turbine to provide additional energy into the electricity grid when needed.

However, it’s not just about Next Generation Hydro, with Tasmania’s world class wind potential also playing a critical role in the state’s energy future.

Cattle Hill and Granville Harbour wind farms are already underway, with plans for expansion elsewhere including at Robbins Island.

Tasmania’s wind is not just a powerful resource for us in the State, but our wind often blows when it’s not blowing elsewhere in the country, enabling us to provide wind-generated electricity when it’s needed elsewhere in the National Electricity Market.

The combination of Tasmania’s pumped hydro, wind and interconnection is said to be cost-competitive against all other realistic options for the future energy system.

ARENA’s ‘The Battery of the Nation- analysis of the future National Electricity Market’ report states Tasmania’s “flexible hydro power… could translate to a 20 per cent reduction in energy costs and an additional reduction of up to nine million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year”.

This 20 per cent competitive advantage includes the cost of additional interconnection to the mainland.

New and increased interconnection underpins this development, and the Australian Government agrees referring to it as ‘national infrastructure’ and Infrastructure Australia considering it as a ‘priority’.

A number of potential terminal sites on mainland Victoria and across the North of Tasmania have been identified. TasNetworks is reviewing and has met with cable manufacturers in Europe to discuss.

The Hodgman Liberal Government’s is getting on with the job shoulder to shoulder with the Turnbull Liberal Government to capitalise on our unique renewable energy advantage to create more jobs, investment and low cost power that will deliver benefits for next generation Tasmanians.