Innovation and research

Research and development

Since our first hydropower development almost a century ago, Hydro Tasmania has been a leader in renewable energy development. To this day Hydro Tasmania continues to focus on improving aspects of renewable energy with our research and development program. The program looks at developing and improving products, processes and even markets.

At the moment we are focused on three main areas: product innovation and development; asset and resource management; and new renewable technologies. Specific projects are:

  • A product to help our large customers improve energy efficiency through access to daily  energy use information
  • investigating ways to improve the performance of our assets that convey water. Man-made waterways such as penstocks, flumes, canals and tunnels. 
  • studying ways to prevent eels entering water turbines
  • supporting the University of New South Wales research into dam embankment and spillway erosion
  • developing new ways of modelling wind farm sites and monitoring wind speeds
  • supporting research at Monash University into better understanding rainfall patterns by using tree ring analysis technology – that’s right by using the rings found inside a tree trunk
  • supporting University of Tasmania research into integrating large scale intermittent renewable energy technologies into the electricity grid, such as wind and wave technology

In 2011, Hydro Tasmania formalised its support for the University of Tasmania’s Centre for Renewable Energy and Power Systems (CREPS) as a Governor Member. CREPS aims to enhance both fundamental and applied research in power and energy systems in Australia. What the centre is aiming for is to become a world-class research and teaching institution and a leader in the area of renewable energy and power systems.

Hydro Tasmania spends about $4.5 million on research and development - the majority of this goes to large projects that aim to make our operations more effective. Our targeted R&D program accounts for about $150 000 and projects put forward are subject to a gated decision-making process. The first hurdle is the driver - whether it is a commercial opportunity, an operational necessity or building the capability of the business. After that it is judged on its fit with our business strategy, its likelihood of success and finally its alignment with our R&D Strategy.

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows, on average, R&D expenditure in the Australian electricity, gas, water and waste services industries was around 1.1 to 1.3 per cent of expenditure. Hydro Tasmania’s R&D expenditure on average is between 0.70 and 0.75 per cent.