With hydro storage levels dropping below recommended minimums across Tasmania for the first time since the 2016 energy crisis, the Tasmanian Gas Pipeline (TGP) is again playing a vital role in the state’s energy security.
Tasmania experienced significantly lower than average rainfalls in January, with some areas having their driest January on record.
This dry spell has seen water levels at the state’s hydro generation plants fall, resulting in Tasmania’s overall energy reserves dipping below the Prudent Storage Level, a level set to ensure the system’s high reliability.
Energy storage levels are down 11 per cent compared to the same time last year and in order to meet consumer demand, Tasmania is importing three times as much energy than it is exporting across the Basslink interconnector.
TGP Chief Executive Officer, Lindsay Ward said while falling below the Prudent Storage Level was not a reason for immediate panic, it did highlight the strategic benefit of having alternative base load energy sources in the state to ensure energy security.
“Tasmania relies on a multi-faceted energy supply structure to ensure a reliable system which meets state demand,” Mr Ward said.
“Gas is a significant contributor to this system, and the Tasmanian Gas Pipeline is the only natural gas supply pipeline connecting Tasmania to the natural gas reserves on the mainland.
“The Tamar Valley Power Station (which is driven by natural gas delivered by the pipeline) operated near full capacity in early 2019 in order to support water levels and keep them above Prudent Storage Levels.”
Mr Ward said as well as the immeasurable energy security benefit, the Tasmanian Gas Pipeline had also made a significant positive impact to the local economy through enabling Tasmanian businesses to be more competitive in Australian and Asian markets, while also giving households and small businesses an alternative energy source.
“By introducing gas to Tasmania, the state gained further competition in the energy market and over the last 17 or so years of operation, our dedicated workforce have not experienced a single lost time injury,” Mr Ward said
The top 20 business users of natural gas account for approximately 81 per cent of natural gas use in Tasmania outside of the Tamar Valley Power station’s consumption, and the top 11 business users account for 75 per cent of this total usage.
An economic assessment of the benefits of TGP in 2014 highlighted the direct and indirect contribution of the top 11 natural gas users in Tasmania:
- $1.7 billion in Gross State Product, or seven per cent of the state’s total ($24.4 billion)
- $848 million in household income which represents six per cent of total estimated household income ($13.9 billion)
- A total of 11,600 full time equivalent jobs, representing six per cent of the estimated employment for Tasmania (198,410).
The Tasmanian Gas Pipeline is part of a network of underground high-pressure gas pipes, which stretches over 20,000 kilometres and serves all of Australia’s states and territories.
The pipeline is approximately 740 kilometres long and transports gas predominantly from the Gippsland Basin, with a current capacity of 47 peta joules per annum.
In Tasmania, the pipeline comes ashore at Five Mile Bluff, north of Bell Bay and continues further along the Tamar River to the Bell Bay Meter Station.
At Bell Bay, the pressure is reduced and becomes the Southern Pipeline Extension, which continues south for approximately 210 kilometres. At Rosevale the Northern Pipeline Extension splits and continues west for 181 kilometres to Port Latta in north-west Tasmania.