Opinion Pieces

Only Labor will deliver on state's potential

March 01, 2019

Tasmania has been the country's hydro-electricity powerhouse for generations.

As Australia and the world faces an unprecedented energy transition to a much greater reliance on renewable energy, we'll see a need for energy storage on an unprecedented scale to ensure that renewable energy can be delivered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

With its massive pumped hydro and wind energy potential, Tasmania can find itself in the driver's seat to take advantage of the energy transition underway.

But we cannot be complacent about this transition. Only with the right national vision, backed by the right policies from Canberra, will we see Tasmania take advantage of its huge potential in a modern energy system.

Tasmanians know this. That's why the state has developed an ambitious plan to become the Battery of the Nation in a renewable powered national electricity system.

This plan includes three components, all crucial and all interlinked.

Central to this vision is the Marinus Link interconnector with the mainland. This link underpins significantly more pumped hydro storage through the Battery of the Nation project, as well as new renewable projects taking advantage of the state's world leading wind resource.

These additional investments are where the benefits from Marinus Link come from, and they rely on a new link with the mainland to export power and be viable.

This week, the latest feasibility study into the Marinus Link was released.

The feasibility study confirms that under a business as usual neutral scenario, the Marinus project, and, therefore, the broader Battery of the Nation vision doesn't stack up economically.

The study states "in the neutral scenario the costs of Marinus Link would exceed the benefits it would provide, even after including other benefits not captured by EY's model".

But while this result could be disheartening, the feasibility study also confirms that under a High Emission Reduction Scenario, which is broadly consistent with Labor's 50 per cent 2030 renewable energy commitment, the project delivers a net positive benefit of $490 million for a 600 MW link, and a $760 million net benefit for a 1200 link.

Importantly, the study confirms that with an ambitious renewable energy investment program, Australia will be able to support both the Battery of the Nation project, and Snowy 2.0.

If Snowy 2.0 project goes ahead, the Marinus Link project can still provide significant net benefits for Tasmania and the nation, but only under the High Emission Reduction Scenario, with net benefits of $144 million with a 600 MW link, and $384 million with a larger 1200 MW link.

The facts are clear, only with a national plan consistent with at least 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 will see Tasmania reach its huge energy potential.

As well as our 50 per cent renewable commitment, and our $56 million commitment to the next stage of the Marinus project, Labor has a plan for Australia's energy transition. This plan includes a $5 billion Energy Security and Modernisation Fund to support new transmission investments like the Marinus Link, and support for commercial and residential renewables and storage, including pumped hydro, through a $10 billion capital injection into the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

In contrast, the Liberals have spent over five years in government attacking the transition to renewables as "unreliable", "madness", and "ideological". They refuse to support any pro-renewable policy post 2020 and they plan to underwrite new coal power stations that directly undermine the business case for both the Battery of the Nation project and Snowy Hydro 2.0.

As recently as February this year, when asked about climate change, Deputy Prime Minister McCormack said: "We don't want to go down a path of renewables".

The Prime Minister has spent two days spruiking and promising support for Marinus Link and pumped hydro projects including the Battery of the Nation, that only make sense in the renewable energy future his government vehemently opposes.

That's why Tasmanian just can't trust the state's energy future to Scott Morrison and his anti-renewable Liberals, regardless of the Prime Minister's latest marketing ploys.

Tasmania has a central role to play in a modern, clean electricity system, and only a Shorten Labor government will work with all Tasmanians to make that role a reality.