Adapting for a very different climate future

18 October 2021



By Caroline Wykamp, Executive General Manager Commercial

Working in the electricity sector gives a front-row seat to the energy transition required to address climate change. We must address emissions to make this transition. More than 50 per cent of Australia’s emissions come from the energy sector, so we can’t continue as we have in the past. We must embrace a cleaner, more sustainable future.

 


 

The pathway to get there brings new risks. It also creates new opportunities.

 

I came to Hydro Tasmania to focus on those opportunities. I must admit to a little scepticism early in my career about climate change – was the problem really as bad as the scientists said? I was not alone in the electricity sector as a climate change sceptic. Indeed, this was once the more common view in my professional circles. But my research, reading and diligent scientists took me to a different place. I was forced then to take a closer look at my role in the sector. 

 

"I wanted to influence change and work for an organisation
where sustainability 
was key and their people
were passionate about creating a bright future."


Tasmania and Hydro Tasmania were the perfect fit for me. A rich history in clean energy generation and a State Government with big ambitions to double renewable energy generation. An exciting opportunity through Battery of the Nation and Marinus Link to make even greater contributions to a clean, reliable and affordable future grid.

 

I now lead the Commercial team, where renewable energy generation delivers profits to Tasmania (our single shareholder). My team finds clever ways to adapt our products and generation operations to suit an evolving electricity market increasingly driven by weather and supported by energy storage.

 

 

But Hydro Tasmania’s responsibility stretches far beyond that. We are one of the custodians of Tasmania’s precious resources. Each day we balance power generation with sustainably managing the environment to protect our rivers, lakes, threatened species, world heritage areas and cultural heritage.

 

It is with this perspective that we look at what a changing climate will mean for our future.

 

When your business is dependent on weather and climate, understanding what the future looks like is critical. Weather is becoming the fuel of the future. As our climate changes, we must prepare and adapt. Hydro Tasmania has been doing that for many years, working alongside the Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO and University of Tasmania. We’ve been delving into their long-term outlooks to understand what impact a changing climate will have on rainfall and inflows and what that means for how we operate our hydropower systems.

 

Each year since 2018, we help bring together Tasmanian climate researchers with industry, business and government leaders to discuss the latest activities and research, learning from each other so we can identify climate change risks and recognise the opportunities. By knowing the risks, we can better manage them.

 

"The growing push to decarbonise energy and other parts
of the economy is a perfect opportunity for Tasmania."

 

What began as a mission to electrify the state in 1914 now aligns with building a more sustainable future. Our historical investment in clean technology can see Tasmania take a leading role in the national energy transformation.

 

 

These aren’t empty promises. Hydro Tasmania has been scoring runs: our emissions profile is extremely low (and we are pushing to do more), we have reduced our reportable emissions by 80 per cent (that’s 350,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents in the past 5 years), and we’re working to quantify and scope our indirect emissions (going beyond statutory requirements for reporting).


The hydropower and pumped hydro developments within Battery of the Nation are a two-fold opportunity, benefiting the state and our nation. We can increase the resilience of the Tasmanian power system and water resources to climate change. Marinus Link also opens up diversification of supply through development of more on-island generation like wind farms. This helps to manage potential risks from climate change and periods of low rainfall. It frees up hydropower to provide flexible capacity when wind and solar are scarce and takes pressure off Tasmanian water resources.

 

But this journey to a new climate future is not one we can make alone. The people of Tasmania are our owners and our commitment is to share more about what we are doing, why it’s important and what it means for you. We want to know what you think, what concerns you and what inspires you. After all, this journey starts with individuals like you and me.

 

This editorial was first published by the Mercury on 15 October 2021

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