Drought and Power In Van Dieman's Land  

Posted by Big Gav

"The Advocate" reports that Tasmania will run short of electricity within six months unless heavy rains arrive to replenish Hydro Tasmania dams. Another potential electricity system victim for global warming.

This seems quite ironic given that the BassLink project due to go live this summer was intended to supply the mainland with surplus Tasmanian hydro-electricity.

Basslink is an historic Australian energy project that will allow the trade of electricity between Tasmania and the mainland, and allow Tasmania to enter the National Electricity Market (NEM). Basslink will enhance security of supply on both sides of Bass Strait; protecting Tasmania against the risk of drought-constrained energy shortages and protecting Victoria and southern states against the forecast shortage of peak load power.

The Basslink interconnector will run from Loy Yang in Gippsland, Victoria, across Bass Strait to Bell Bay in northern Tasmania. When installed the 290 km undersea cable component for Basslink will be the longest of its type in the world. Basslink will have the capacity to export up to a maximum of 600 megawatts of power from Tasmania to Victoria, and import a maximum of 300 megawatts to Tasmania, with a continuous rating of 480 megawatts.

As Tasmania has some of the best wind resources on the planet, the government's announced intention to fast-track development of wind farms shows some wisdom (unlike their benighted forests policy).
Premier Paul Lennon outlined Government plans to avert the looming crisis by fast-tracking energy schemes like wind farms and a wood-fired power station. At least one major company has agreed to cut back power use, and domestic electricity rationing has not been ruled out.

Mr Lennon said if these schemes failed to prevent an energy crisis, Tasmania would have to resort to burning diesel for power. "This is the lowest level of rainfall since the Hydro began keeping records in 1924. Our options are somewhat limited," Mr Lennon said.

Hydro and Aurora executives told the Premier late last week there was only enough energy in storage to last until December. If equipment failed, power could run out even sooner. Mr Lennon's plan of attack was to speed up plans for wind farms on the West Coast and in the North-East, and progress the development of a wood-fired power station near Huonville.

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