Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced the expansion of the Tasmanian Hydro System to provide affordable, reliable electricity as the state moves towards a lower emissions future.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) will work with Hydro Tasmania on feasibility studies to assess several new pumped hydro energy storage schemes that could deliver up to 2,500MW of storage capacity for the National Electricity Market, as well as examining expansion of the Tarraleah and Gordon Power Stations.

ARENA will examine four large projects: Mersey Forth-1, Mersey Forth-2, Great Lake and Lake Burbury – with capacity of around 500-700 MW each – and an alternative of nine small scale sites totalling 500MW.

Mr Turnbull said an expanded hydro system in Tasmania could provide enough electricity to power 500,000 homes.

Federal Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg and his Tasmanian counterpart Matthew Groom will continue to work on the project.

The proposed expansion comes on the back of plans for Snowy 2.0 and supports the Turnbull Government’s technology neutral approach to affordable, reliable electricity.

Enhancing Tasmania’s considerable hydroelectric and renewables potential will provide new economic opportunities.

Pumped hydro can further stabilise the National Electricity Market and underpin additional wind investment in the State.

Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman said the opportunity to expand the hydro system is enhanced by the fact that over the next 10 years Tasmania will invest around $1 billion in maintaining and refurbishing the State’s existing hydropower assets.

This will maximise renewable energy potential in Tasmania helping the national electricity market transition to a low carbon future.

The Hodgman Government’s vision is for Tasmania to become the renewable energy battery for Australia and it will continue to actively promote further renewable energy opportunities in Tasmania.

Matthew Groom, Minister for Energy said, “What the Prime Minister announced yesterday is effectively a second-wave of hydro development that has the potential to rival our previous golden era in hydro development.

“Tasmania is one of the few places on Earth that is almost entirely powered by renewable baseload energy. We do it better than anyone else, anywhere else. The Prime Minister’s visit yesterday confirmed that and it is our challenge to become the renewable energy battery of the nation, a challenge that the Hodgman Government well and truly accepts.”

Hydro Tasmania welcomed the announcement, and said Tasmania is uniquely placed to help lead Australia through its energy challenges.

“These proposals are an exciting product of discussions we’re having with the Tasmanian and Federal Governments on ways to boost Tasmania’s renewable energy generation and contribution to the National Electricity Market (NEM),” said Hydro Tasmania’s CEO Steve Davy.

The ARENA supported work builds on the study by Dr John Tamblyn into a second interconnector. Dr Tamblyn’s report finds another interconnector might be beneficial but will depend on the ongoing development of the electricity system in Tasmania and the National Electricity Market.

After taking into account all these changes, the Tasmanian Government will consider the recommendation to accelerate a detailed business case for a second interconnector.

Lauren brings a fresh approach to content. While she’s previously written for publications as diverse as Australian Geographic, The Border Watch and Girlfriend, she’s found her true passion in her current role as an editor in the world of energy and infrastructure trade magazines.

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