Guest essay by Eric Worrall
JoNova has discovered that just prior to recent disastrous flooding in Tasmania, Australia, desperate hydropower operators conducted a cloud seeding operation, despite there already being forecasts of torrential rainfall.
The whole sorry mess started, when desperately green Tasmania attempted to go 100% renewable. Tasmania thought they were on a winner, and allegedly got greedy – they may have inadvertently burned out the power cable which connects the island state to mainland Australia, trying to sell too much premium “green” electricity to the mainland.
Hydro Tasmania exceeded safe power transmission levels, Basslink says
BASSLINK owners sought to restrict Hydro Tasmania’s electricity exports and enforce a “cooling off” protocol during the period of the carbon tax to ensure the undersea cable was operated safely and reliably.
The news comes as Basslink prepares to cut the cable today and enable the cause of the fault to be pinpointed.
After three outages in July 2012, Basslink parent company Cityspring Infrastructure Trust sought to enforce what it called a “dynamic protocol” on the service agreement between it and Hydro, which enable it to transmit at “certain elevated levels”.
But the company said the outages came after Hydro transmitted electricity at levels above these in early July.
Hydro and Cityspring then had a protracted dispute which was ultimately arbitrated by former Chief Justice of the High Court Murray Gleeson in 2014.
Opposition leader Bryan Green told Parliament on Wednesday that there was increasing speculation that the $875m cable had been “fried”.
With Tasmania now nearly 100% dependent on hydropower, with no backup available from the mainland, it didn’t take much of an adverse rainfall season to run the hydroelectric dams almost dry.
Hydro Tasmania has confirmed dam levels will drop even lower than earlier projections if rain continues to fall at its current rate.
A day after Energy Minister Matthew Groom said he had asked Hydro Tasmania to review its modelling given the latest delay to the Basslink repair, Hydro CEO Steve Davy revealed modelling had been done based on lower than average rainfall.
It showed dam levels could go as low as 12 per cent.
Hydro had predicted that water storages would not drop below 13.6 per cent by May, but dam levels are already at 13.9 per cent.
Mr Davy told 936 ABC Hobart that was due to receiving just a little over half of average inflows in January, February and March.
“If we received a similar amount relative to average, so a little over half over April, May and June then storages would get to around 12 per cent and stay at that level through to the forecast return of Basslink in the middle of June,” Mr Davy said.
When good rain clouds finally did appear, Hydro Tasmania apparently decided not to take any chances;
Hydro Tasmania seeded clouds before fatal floods, despite forecast
Tasmania’s state-owned hydro-electric power generator could face legal action for damages after admitting it cloud-seeded in or near water catchments the day before disastrous flooding, although heavy rain was forecast.
Hydro Tasmania’s cloud-seeding plane was sent up on Sunday morning and seeded clouds with silver iodide to increase rainfall for an hour and 34 minutes, from 10.57am, despite the weather forecast.
The operation targeted the Upper Derwent catchment, an area that less than 24 hours later saw damaging floods which left one man missing, feared drowned at Ouse and caused major damage to property and stock.
The cloud-seeding also was within about 10km of the Mersey-Forth catchment area, which also hours later experienced rapid and disastrous flooding that killed a woman and inundated dozens of homes at Latrobe.
“We are gobsmacked that the Hydro would do this, considering the weather forecasts as of Wednesday or Thursday last week were saying significant rain between 80 to 100mm or more,” said Wayne Johnston, president of the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association. “There is rising anger from farmers who have now lost significant infrastructure, without the loss of livestock and possible loss of life.
If Tasmania had a sensible backup strategy, involving adequate fossil fuel backup, or a zero emissions nuclear power plant, or if they hadn’t allegedly burned out their connector cable to the mainland through their alleged greed to cash in on premium renewable sales, they wouldn’t be in this sorry mess.
In their zeal to be 100% green, Tasmania made a series of decisions which in my opinion were utterly stupid. It looks like Tasmania’s green policies may have caused the death of at least one person, who died in flooding which was likely exacerbated by an unwise decision to attempt to boost an already torrential downpour.