Battery of the Nation FAQs

+What is the Battery of the Nation initiative?

The Battery of the Nation initiative is about investigating and developing a pathway of future development opportunities for Tasmania to make a greater contribution to the National Electricity Market (or NEM).

Where did the initiative come from?

In April 2017, the Prime Minister and Tasmanian Premier expressed support for studies into projects that would boost Tasmania’s energy generation.

The announcement focused on boosting Tasmania’s clean energy capacity and making a greater contribution to the National Electricity Market:

  1. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will work with Hydro Tasmania to explore new pumped hydro schemes that could deliver up to 2500 megawatts of pumped storage generation capacity – nearly doubling Hydro Tasmania’s current capacity.
  2. ARENA will consider a study which includes replacing one of Hydro Tasmania’s oldest power stations at Tarraleah with a modern design - boosting production by up to 200 gigawatt hours each year, and extending its operating life by 80 years. The Gordon Power Station (our largest) would also have an extra turbine installed to boost efficiency.

Why is it important to Tasmania?

Under the Battery of the Nation initiative, Hydro Tasmania is looking at development options that can comprehensively assure energy security for Tasmania and give Tasmanians access to the lowest possible power prices.

When realised, this initiative will be great for Tasmania’s economy through increased investment, regional development and employment opportunities. This initiative could create up to $5 billion of infrastructure investment and up to 3000 jobs across a 10 to 15 year construction period.

The initiative will:

  • Support reliable and cost effective energy supply for Tasmanians and customers in the NEM
  • Be good for the state’s economy (development and jobs)
  • Make a contribution to ‘decarbonising’ the NEM
  • Support energy security in Tasmania and the NEM

What projects are you working on?

This analysis will serve as a platform for Tasmania to strongly engage in the national debate about the future of the NEM, and influence outcomes for the benefit of our State.

Our initial studies have identified that there is significant pumped hydro potential in the state. These projects could deliver up to 2500 megawatts of pumped hydro generation capacity – nearly doubling Hydro Tasmania’s current capacity. We are completing an extensive assessment process across Tasmania to shortlist key regions and specific sites to take to the next stage of study.

This project is part of an overall focus on improvement and optimisation of Tasmania's hydropower system. We are assessing suitable options for redesigning the Tarraleah Power Scheme to achieve a boost in production of up to 200 gigawatt hours extra each year and extend its working life. The assessment will take into consideration what role the station and scheme could play in an energy supply system that is very different to what we have now.

This project is part of an overall focus on improvement and optimisation of the Tasmanian hydropower system. We are looking at a solution to more efficiently generate power from the environmental water flow released to the Gordon River.

How long will the studies take?

Work is already underway on these projects and we expect to make an announcement on the outcomes in early 2018.

How can I contribute to the studies?

We want to hear from you. Your views on these projects, and the information you provide, will be used to identify priority issues and opportunities requiring further consideration. We are happy to provide information to you, or come and talk to you. Get in touch with us via email or phone us on 1300 360 441.

+ How does pumped hydro energy storage work?

Conventional hydropower systems collect water in a lake or reservoir on higher ground. The water is run downhill to spin a turbine in the station below, generating electricity.

Pumped hydro energy storage systems have an upper reservoir and a lower reservoir. The water is stored in an upper reservoir and run through a turbine to a lower reservoir when electricity is needed – such as when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing.

The water can then be pumped back uphill when there is excess electricity in the system (which often happens with wind and solar). This is often simply by running a specially-designed generator backwards.

Pumped Hydro information graphic_Sept 17
Click image to enlarge

+How is site selection being done for pumped hydro energy storage?
  • An initial statewide review identified a large list of potential sites (more than 2000) for development in Tasmania.
  • This was narrowed down to around 30 high-potential sites based on desk top studies and we are now looking to shortlist to around 10 to 15 sites for more detailed analysis. The shortlisting process takes into account aspects including topography, environmental, social, transmission, technical and physical aspects and proximity to existing assets.
  • The shortlist of 10-15 possible development sites will be the subject of more extensive pre-feasibility studies before final sites are selected. Pre-feasibility studies will include a stakeholder engagement process as an input to site selection.

+Are you considering projects in the World Heritage Area?
  • We are not considering activity in any sensitive areas.
  • We have excluded environmentally sensitive areas including the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) and National Parks from our pumped hydro energy storage studies. There will be no pumped hydro sites developed in the TWWHA.

+Are you planning to dam any more rivers?
  • No, we are not investigating new on-river dams as part of any potential pumped hydro project.
  • There is potential for development of new small off-river storages to support pumped hydro schemes.

+What impact might this have on existing water obligations and commitments?
  • Hydro Tasmania takes its water supply obligations very seriously, and will continue to meet them. Affordable pricing is also very important. Those issues will be considered as part of any pumped hydro evaluation.
  • Feedback from interested groups will form part of that evaluation process.
  • Hydro Tasmania has a strong relationship with Tasmanian irrigators, who play a crucial role in Tasmania’s community and economy. We will liaise with the TFGA, irrigators and other water users to help build their understanding of the project and address any concerns and opportunities as the project progresses.
  • Hydro Tasmania will also consider and consult on any potential for the pumped hydro initiatives to create opportunities for enhancing the capability of irrigation schemes and any associated benefits for the agricultural sector.

+What is ARENA?
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) works to accelerate Australia’s shift to an affordable and reliable renewable energy future and was created by the Australian Government in 2012.

ARENA funds projects that advance renewable energy technologies along the innovation chain, from the early research stage in the lab to the demonstration stage in the field.

ARENA’s job is to bring the best ideas to life and share the knowledge gained to unlock the potential of Australia’s vast renewable resources.

“Our funding, knowledge and networks can help bridge the gap between innovation and commercialisation, helping accelerating Australia’s renewable energy future.”

+What is ARENA providing funding for?
ARENA has approved funding for the Gordon and Tarraleah studies, and the pumped hydro energy storage assessment under its Advancing Renewables Program.

+What is the NEM?

The National Electricity Market (NEM) operates on one of the world’s longest interconnected power systems, stretching from Port Douglas in Queensland to Port Lincoln in South Australia and across the Bass Strait to Tasmania – a distance of around 5000 kilometres. The NEM supplies around 9 million customers. It supplies about 200 terawatt hours of electricity to businesses and households each year.

The NEM’s transmission network carries power from electricity generators to large industrial energy users and local electricity distributors across five states (Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania), which deliver it to homes and businesses. These assets are owned and operated by state governments, or private businesses.

The illustration below, produced by AEMO, shows how the transport of electricity works from generator to consumer.

Transport of Electricity AEMO

Find out more in the Introduction to the National Electricity Market fact sheet which has been produced by AEMO. You can also find out more about the NEM by visiting AEMO's website.

© Hydro-Electric Corporation 2018