Aussie State Tasmania Declares itself 100% Renewable Energy

That time when greens once opposed wilderness destruction and dams. The Anti Frankin Dam protests in Tasmania led to the formation of the Tasmanian Green Party

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

100% renewable, except when Tasmania’s politicians run down their hydro dams to critical low levels selling green electrons to the mainland, burn out the undersea inter-connector with excessive current, and have to fire up emergency diesel generators.

Tasmania declares itself 100 per cent powered by renewable electricity

Michael Mazengarb 

The Tasmania government has declared that it has become the first Australian state, and one of just a handful of jurisdictions worldwide, to be powered entirely by renewable electricity.

In a statement released on Friday, Tasmanian energy minister Guy Barnett said that state had effectively become entirely self-sufficient for supplies of renewable electricity, supplied by the state’s wind and hydroelectricity projects.

“We have reached 100 per cent thanks to our commitment to realising Tasmania’s renewable energy potential through our nation-leading energy policies and making Tasmania attractive for industry investment, which in turn is creating jobs across the State, particularly in our regions,” Barnett said.

Tasmania has long had one of the greenest supplies of electricity in Australia, with the state’s significant hydroelectricity resources supplying the bulk of the state’s power. Tasmania’s history with hydroelectricity dates back to 1895, with the Duck Reach power plant in Launceston becoming the first publicly owned hydroelectric power station in the southern hemisphere.

Read more:

What about that burned out interconnector?

Tasmania grid struggles with drought, bushfires, lost connection

Giles Parkinson  

Tasmania’s electricity grid is facing its biggest challenge in years, with its hydro storage about to fall to its lowest levels ever, bushfires forcing the closure of some power facilities, and a faulty cable cutting the connection between the island and the country’s main electricity grid.

The Apple Isle’s main source of electricity – hydro power – is being challenged by its driest ever spring, pushing reserves down to just 18.9 per cent.

The lowest level ever is 16.5 per cent, reached in 2007, but overall storage levels are predicted to fall to a low of 14 per cent by the end of March – if normal rainfall patterns resume. At current rates, however, some fear they may fall below those levels, although there has been some light rain in recent days.

To make matters worse, the Basslink cable linking the island’s grid to the mainland has been cut by technical problems, and will probably remain closed for another two months, while the raging bushfires have threatened power lines and forced the temporary closure of at least four hydro plants.

Read more:

I guess the lesson is if most of your state is a giant mountainous watershed you can build enough hydro to go 100% renewable. So not an option for most parts of the world.

Having said that, even the cold, rainy island state of Tasmania suffers droughts. If they have drained their dams selling green electrons to the mainland, and the rains fail, all it takes is a little of their regular undersea inter-connector trouble at the wrong time and they’re back to expensive diesel power. So not quite 100% renewable then.

And of course we’re quietly ignoring the fact Tasmania imports a lot of energy intensive goods.

The saddest part of this story, most of the green campaigners who risked their lives opposing bulldozing and flooding pristine wilderness during the 70s and 80s hydro construction projects have pretty much sold out to the idea of big green. Most of them are now fully on board with concreting the Tasmanian watershed.

Update (EW): Added a link to an expert assessment that the 2016 undersea cable failure was caused by excessive power transmission, which led to overheating and degradation of the cable structure.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
John in Oz
December 1, 2020 2:23 pm

I’ll believe the hype when they decommission the Basslink cable and make diesel generators illegal

Bryan A
Reply to  John in Oz
December 1, 2020 5:43 pm

Sounds like it’s time to proof the concept and sever the inter-tie to the mainland. If Tasmania can produce 100% of their energy needs from 100% renewable sources 100% of the time for 10 years then concept proofed for them

Reply to  Bryan A
December 2, 2020 12:12 am

Only the claim is wrong as they use hydro which is not renewable according to the Paris rules … so the statement is factually wrong from the greentard point of view.

Tombstone Gabby
Reply to  Bryan A
December 2, 2020 7:47 pm

Sever the tie?

AEMO at 202012031340: Tasmania. Demand:1046MW. Hydro: 438MW. Wind: 277MW. For a shortfall of 331MW – being imported from Victoria – at $80.36 MW.

That “tie” is needed.

oeman 50
Reply to  John in Oz
December 3, 2020 1:31 pm

They also indicated they needed to develop hydrogen for energy storage, which means it is not truly 100% that fulfills power needs 24/7/365.

December 1, 2020 2:27 pm

Welcome to Jungle of “free” energy. I would feel bad for these people if this had been forced upon them. This is what the majority voted for and they get to reap what they have sown.

No company with sane leadership would invest in Tasmania.
I will be looking for the “Made in Tasmania” tag; not holding my breath.

Reply to  JEHILL
December 1, 2020 2:57 pm

Ironically, the biggest income for Tasmania comes from the Zinc smelter on the Derwent River, and the Aluminium products from around the Bell Bay region.

They do have a good Aluminium boat building firm somewhere, iirc

Then you have tourism, wood and paper and of course small quantities of high quality cool climate produce.

And let’s not forget, the Cadbury Chocolates factory! 🙂

Ron Long
Reply to  fred250
December 1, 2020 5:11 pm

How about Tasmanian Devils, aren’t they a big tourist draw?

Reply to  Ron Long
December 1, 2020 5:23 pm

Hard to find in the wild, sanctuary fellas are somewhat tame 😉

That cancer/mouth disease, has caused havoc with the cute little fellas though 🙁

Last time I was down there, visited a sanctuary, and the guy feeding the male was wearing chain-steel gauntlets up to his elbows 🙂

Not so cute at feeding time.

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  fred250
December 1, 2020 9:57 pm

Not hard to find around here. 40% head which is 90% mouth. They’ll strip a paddymelon(small kangaroo) carcase overnight.

Reply to  fred250
December 1, 2020 8:35 pm

Bell Bay has its own gas turbine power station

Reply to  yarpos
December 1, 2020 11:28 pm

Yes. 345 MW but that was closed in 2007. It relied on natural gas piped from mainland

Reply to  yarpos
December 1, 2020 11:37 pm

shut it down, build a wind mill lol

December 1, 2020 2:35 pm

Not at this very moment they are not, demand outstrips supply and they must import from interstate, mainly coal generated electricity.

Reply to  kalsel3294
December 1, 2020 2:56 pm

How dare you spoil their declaration?

December 1, 2020 2:35 pm

All this sort of thing comes about when Group Think replaces Logical Think. Logical Thinking makes their brains hurt and it is a lot easier just to parrot what they hear going on all around them.

Y. Knott
Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
December 4, 2020 4:21 am

I had that explained, in the mien of financial planners making investments for the big boys. The real trick in investing is to “call the top”, i.e. when the wave crests and starts going down. That’s when investors like to stop investing and begin pulling-out their money or shorting the stock. But if you get it wrong by even a few days and your client loses a fortune, your career is over. So they parrot each other – that way they’re all right, or all wrong. Job security.

Zig Zag Wanderer
December 1, 2020 2:39 pm

I thought hydo was excluded from the ‘renewable’ list by the properly woke?

Reply to  Eric Worrall
December 1, 2020 2:48 pm

Hydro is why CHINA has already met its renewable promise under the Paris agenda…

Reply to  Eric Worrall
December 1, 2020 5:19 pm

Yep, I’ve been reading that their 3 Gorges huge dam of their could have serious issues.

Let’s hope not, for the sake of those living downstream.

It is holding up OK so far, with some major storm events, but its not that old yet !

Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
December 2, 2020 12:14 am

Yep hydro isn’t a renewable by the greentard system.

Tim Crome
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
December 2, 2020 7:49 am

Not in the European Union, much to the disappointment of Norway.

December 1, 2020 2:44 pm

ROFLMAO.. what a load of BS !!!!

Currently being fed by BROWN COAL from Victoria

comment image

Reply to  fred250
December 1, 2020 3:42 pm

What site did you get that screen-grab from?

Reply to  fred250
December 1, 2020 5:29 pm

Thanks – I haven’t seen that there before.
Is there anything that explains the symbols for the interconnector flows?

Reply to  Analitik
December 1, 2020 7:31 pm

There’s a helpful links down the bottom of the page , maybe the pdf will have what you seek.

Reply to  Analitik
December 1, 2020 5:32 pm

ps, the other site for electricity graphs is

It doesn’t show transfers, but it does show how tiny the electricity use of SA and Tasmania is compared to the 3 main eastern states.

Also shows roof-top solar “estimates”

Joel Snider
December 1, 2020 2:52 pm

Looks like one of the homeless camps here in Portland.

Reply to  Joel Snider
December 1, 2020 4:07 pm

How dare you slander Portland homeless people by likening them to Tasmanian greens.

Joel Snider
Reply to  Mr.
December 1, 2020 4:21 pm

I was actually about to apologize to the Tasmanians. Of course, I don’t have to chase them out of our warehouse parking lot every day.

December 1, 2020 2:54 pm

Looking it up, Tasmania has a population of 540,000 people as of March 2020. 60% of the people live in two cities. The good news is there aren’t that many people to serve, the bad news if something goes wrong it can be catastrophic.

Reply to  rbabcock
December 1, 2020 3:09 pm

They still have a batch of diesel power for emergencies,

… and iirc they can still bring an old gas powered site back on line..

They keep it maintained .. at great expense.

Reply to  fred250
December 1, 2020 4:28 pm

I missed my calling! I should have been a diesel engine salesman – a quiet achiever!!

Reply to  fred250
December 1, 2020 5:25 pm

@fred250 the diesel generation is shipped in when needed at a cost of several million, transport ain’t cheap down here. The gas plant is relatively new (I did some contract work there in 2010 it was very new then), it used to be oil fired but was converted to natural gas turbine.

Reply to  DrVague
December 1, 2020 7:33 pm

Thanks DrV.. my memory of the exact way things work down there is a bit vague 😉

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  rbabcock
December 1, 2020 4:34 pm

50% literacy rate.

Reply to  Alexy Scherbakoff
December 1, 2020 6:23 pm

OMG! Well, it depends on how you define literacy.

An ABS study in 2006 found 51 per cent of Tasmanians could understand and use information in “prose texts”, such as newspapers and magazines, compared with the national average of 53.6 per cent.

Just 49.3 per cent could find and use information in tables, schedules, graphs and maps – so-called “document literacy – compared with 53.2 per cent nationally.

Numeracy sat at 43.9 per cent for the state and 47.4 per cent for the nation. link

So, it’s not like Tasmanians are heaps worse than the national average. They are a couple of points worse. And it’s not like Australians are a bunch of dummies. Australian educational attainment is on a par with the rest of the OECD. link

Illiteracy is apparently a problem in Tasmania. On the other hand, when folks say 50% illiteracy they will convey the wrong impression. As far as I can tell, Tasmanians aren’t much more illiterate than the rest of the civilised world.

Alexy Scherbakoff
Reply to  commieBob
December 1, 2020 7:42 pm

A local tradesman asked if I knew how to send a text, rather than-‘text me your address’. I queried his phraseology. He told me that many don’t know how to text.

December 1, 2020 2:56 pm

Nothing wrong with taking advantage of your natural resources and geography but for a limited population they’re hardly a world example.

Reply to  markl
December 1, 2020 3:15 pm

Yep, great landscape for hydro dams on the west coast, which also get very high rainfall.

I have a good friend that works for Tassie Hydro. 🙂

They learnt their lesson, a bit, a few years ago, and are now trying to keep their dams a bit higher rather than using them quite so much for revenue. A policy re-adjustment, so he tells me. 😉

Their problems happen if the interconnect goes down when their dams are low, and they don’t get a normal rainy season.

Reply to  fred250
December 1, 2020 3:48 pm

It was Julia Gillard’s Carbon Tax that made rampant exporting irresistible to the cash strapped Tas Hydro management (they had to fund the KIRIEP black hole, somehow). Since Tony Abbott repealed that tax, it is not nearly so profitable to export to the mainland via BassLink so they now wait for the periods when South Australia and Victoria are hot and windless (& possibly cloudy) so they can sell as a peak provider.

Rick C PE
December 1, 2020 3:04 pm

So they’ve gotten rid of petrol and diesel vehicles? Heating is all electric? Or is this just electricity generation which has been mostly hydro for a long time? The ‘devil’ is in the details.

December 1, 2020 3:10 pm

So nothing changed between the 2015-16 summer down under and 2020-21? No ugrades to transmission systems (whatever they may look like these days), no additions to the hydroelectric generation system, whether solar or wind — with or without storage systems or grid management? Honestly, if the grid still had such severe deficiencies, couldn’t you come up with something more current? This is the kind of twisted presentation that gets mainstream media quite appropriately labeled “fake news,” friend…

December 1, 2020 3:11 pm

I’m curious — does anyone know what the price of electricity is in Tasmania?

Reply to  littlepeaks
December 1, 2020 4:33 pm

Locally-produced or imported from the mainland?

Reply to  littlepeaks
December 1, 2020 5:07 pm

2019/20 FY A$55.05/MWhr
Tasmania wholesale electricity prices:
2019/20 FY A$55.05/MWhr
2020/21 FY YTD A$50.11/MWhr
For the past 30 days, generation:
Solar 25 GWhr
Wind 152 GWhr
Hydro 479 GWhr
Gas 8 GWhr
Exports to Victoria 39 GWhr
Imports from Vic 198 GWhr (from brown coal)

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
Reply to  Robber
December 2, 2020 6:41 am


So as I read that, the net import from Victoria was 159 GWhr, so the actual figures should read:

For the past 30 days, generation:
Solar 25 GWhr
Brown Coal 159 GWhr (from Victoria)
Wind 152 GWhr
Hydro 479 GWhr
Gas 8 GWhr

Except that if we’re counting carbon emissions, Victoria generated 198 GWhr from brown coal for the sole purpose of supplying Tasmanian demand, so the full amount generated should be counted as non-renewable in the net total.

Adding them all up, I get net Tasmanian consumption over the last 30 days of 823 GWhr, of which 206 is fossil fuel (burned directly or solely on their behalf). That’s 25% fossil fuel and 75% renewable — very high compared to the world average, but a long way from 100%.

Are the last 30 days fairly typical?

The biased, incompetent and lazy news media never bother to fact-check the statements they already want to believe.

Reply to  littlepeaks
December 1, 2020 5:21 pm

Like most places here, our house is on two tariffs, one for standard light and power, one for heating only. Standard rate is 97c per day and 27c per kWh, heating is 18c per day and 18c per kWh.

Fun fact – the aluminium smelter consumes between a quarter and a third of the entire state’s energy by itself. Pretty sure their rates are discounted. (/s)

Reply to  littlepeaks
December 2, 2020 12:24 am

It sounds wonderful but you have to realize they have very few fossil fuel power stations because it’s a island that gets lots of water it relies on hydro mainly … here is the power station list

6 gas power stations, 4 wind and 29 hydro stations. Compare that to any of any other state in Australia 🙂
In Western Australia we have 1 hydro, 5 coal, 51 gas, 8 wind, 2 solar and 1 biomass … we aren’t going renewable any time soon 🙂

David Kamakaris
December 1, 2020 3:26 pm

Oh yeah. And I’m Pope John Paul III.5

December 1, 2020 3:33 pm

The saddest part of this story, most of the green campaigners who risked their lives opposing bulldozing and flooding pristine wilderness

Fascism without borders. Here’s to progress: one step forward, two steps backward.

Steve Oregon
December 1, 2020 4:16 pm

Great so let’s build more dam in the USA.
Nope. Dams bad. They’re getting ripped out instead.

December 1, 2020 5:52 pm

In the US, hydropower is not allowed to be counted toward renewables use or carbon reduction . As stated by Steve Oregon, “Dams Bad.” That is a tenet of environmental activism and regulation here.

sky king
December 1, 2020 6:01 pm

Airplanes flying, cars driving, tractors pulling and ships moving – all from renewable energy? Amazing!

December 1, 2020 6:07 pm

“And of course we’re quietly ignoring the fact Tasmania imports a lot of energy intensive goods.”

But they’re all Protocolised green goodies from China silly-
You tell them Griff.

December 1, 2020 6:39 pm

Tassie is promoting their “Battery of the Nation” plethora of pumped hydro projects that they expect Commonwealth funds for. The also want Comm. Funds for a “son of Basslink” 2nd cable link to the mainland. The Feds are too easily conned by Tassie – too many politicians. 12 Senators just like NSW which has 10 x the population.

December 1, 2020 6:44 pm

What’s missing from this story is the breath-taking hypocrisy of the Greens.

Now-retired founder / leader of the Australian Greens – Dr Bob Brown – did a melt-down when some group wanted to put a wind farm on a ridge where retiree Bob and his buddy would see it from their cozy little cabin in the Tasmanian bush.

(Mind you, I don’t think Bob is really that interested in Tasmanian bush)

Reply to  Mr.
December 1, 2020 6:53 pm

The Greenies are NOT popular at all down here, never have been.

December 1, 2020 8:10 pm

Tassie Greens get about 10% of the vote in Fed elections – about the National average.

December 1, 2020 8:40 pm

This is from the same school of hyperbole that makes Tasmanian politicians think that Tas is “the battery of Australia” ……across a 600MW (max) interconnector. They seem to have learnt nothing from the inteconnector failure when the Tamar gas plant was a key part of their survival. Never mind, they can run the well worn path of SA to a State wide blackout. Happily it only Tasmania so not much damage will be done except to egos.

December 1, 2020 9:47 pm

Back when I was entering high school in Tasmania, power in Tas was 100% hydro with water storages big enough to store a full year of water. There was then a several year drought and the state ran out of water – industries and households were severely restricted and several diesel fueled gas turbines were hurriedly bought and installed as well as a power generation ship (the George H Evans if memory recalls).
Moral of the story – if you want 100% renewable or anywhere close, you need several YEARS of energy storage, not just hours or days. Think of those hot, overcast wind free periods in summer, with air conditioners going flat out and little or no solar or wind generation – a recipe for disaster.
Even gas is problematic, as the fuel is not stored and a major gas outage such as the Longford explosion in Victoria, or a political interruption to Russian gas for Europe would see generation reduced to near nothing.
Only pit-top coal or well head oil is secure and has truly reliable access to its energy source (unless, like Iceland, you have abundant geothermal)

John in Oz
December 1, 2020 10:06 pm

The ACT Government also try to convince us they are 100% renewable but they have deals with a renewable generator in South Aussie.

I wonder how they move SA green electrons to the ACT without mixing in some dreaded fossil fuel black electrons?

“When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’ ‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’ ‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.”

john rattray
December 1, 2020 11:43 pm

What you have to remember is that it is 100% ENERGY averaged over some ill defined period – probably a year. It is not 100% Renewable POWER, which is altogether different; i.e the surpluses in production average out the deficits in production.

This works fine so long as Tasmania, or any other jurisdiction, remains part of a larger grid, the problem starts when you run out of grids to join and the requirement then becomes 100% renewable power.

December 2, 2020 3:40 am

Any source for the claim that basslink was “burnt out” by green electrons? I don’t recall that being mentioned at the time.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
December 2, 2020 8:03 am

Thanks, here is a plot of basslink flows for December 2015, mostly imports to Tasmania at 450 MW, but with export spikes to around 600 MW, due to a heatwave in Southern Australia causing high demand/price on the mainland:

comment image?w=1024

Dr K.A. Rodgers
December 2, 2020 7:35 am

And New Zealand now has an official Climate Emergency and will be carbon neutral by 2025.

Paul Penrose
December 2, 2020 9:45 am

As far as I can tell, their claim relates only to electricity production, but transportation is a large part of the energy usage of any country. It’s clearly disingenuous (if not outright dishonest) to omit that little detail, not to mention the net import of electricity from Vic over the interconnect.

December 2, 2020 11:39 am

Tasmania is a great example for the rest of the world . All you need to do is build a suitable river system to provide the hydro electric power for base load and hope that the predicted droughts expected with future global warming don’t impact on that water supply.
I would’ve thought that building an electricity system that relies on running water when you are predicting an alarming increase in future droughts might be somewhat flawed.

Graham Balderson
December 2, 2020 1:38 pm

Except for this morning at 7.30 when, according to AEMO, Tasmania was importing 200 MW of electricity from Victoria, most of which was generated by brown coal. Tasmania should declare it is 100% Renewable some of the time but not that often.

December 3, 2020 3:01 am

As Prime Minister Gough Whitlam said last century, “What did Tasmania ever give the world except double-headed cunnilingus?”

Rafe Champion
December 5, 2020 3:10 am

They were importing yesterday afternoon when I checked, also this morning and also at this minute.

Speaking as a native Tasmanian living in exile in Sydney. Possibly literate. One head.

Verified by MonsterInsights