The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced additional funding for the Tarraleah hydropower scheme in Tasmania.

The $2.5 million in funding follows positive results from an initial pre-feasibility study, and is allocated to further feasibility studies. This analysis is expected to cost $5 million in total, with Hydro Tasmania providing the additional $2.5 million.

If the project is found to be technically and economically feasible, the redevelopment would more than double the scheme’s capacity from 104MW to 220MW with 20 hours of storage in one cycle.

The Tarraleah scheme currently generates around 634GWh per year of largely base load energy, providing around 6.5 per cent of Hydro Tasmania’s annual power generation.

This next stage of work follows on from a pre-feasibility study completed earlier this year which identified and assessed options for the future of the Tarraleah scheme.

The pre-feasibility study, funded by ARENA’s initial commitment to the Battery of the Nation initiative, found that an option to expand the capacity of the Tarraleah scheme and increase its flexibility was potentially feasible. The study concluded that capacity-optimised redevelopment would provide an asset that is best placed to support a future electricity market with higher levels of variable renewable generation.

Federal Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg said “Redevelopment of the hydroelectric power station would not only further secure Tasmania’s energy supply, but also create regional jobs.

“The potential redevelopment of the Tarraleah Power Station builds on the identification of 14 high potential pumped hydro energy storage sites across Tasmania, which early modelling shows, if developed, would create up to $5 billion of investment and around 3000 regional jobs.”  Mr Frydenberg said.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the reports into assessing options for Tasmania’s hydro assets aligned with the work being completed under the broader Battery of the Nation initiative.

“The report helps our understanding of future development opportunities in Tasmania and how they could make a larger contribution to the National Electricity Market (NEM).”

“This full scale feasibility of the Tarraleah scheme will enable Hydro Tasmania to determine the best options in terms of cost, market value and system flexibility. Tarraleah can play an integral part in Tasmania’s Battery of the Nation initiative, setting up a blueprint for increasing the state’s renewable resources to support the future NEM.” Mr Frischknecht said.

The CEO of Hydro Tasmania, Steve Davy, said while pumped hydro and wind power attract most of the attention, getting more electricity from existing hydropower assets would also be crucial.

“We can start by finding another 116MW from Tarraleah. This upgrade will also transform Tarraleah into Tasmania’s first truly 21st century hydropower station – adding stability and flexibility to Australia’s future clean energy market.” 

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