Tasmania’s Bid to Become Australia’s Battery Gets Funding Boost

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Tasmania’s ambition to turn itself into Australia’s battery received a boost after Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government on Tuesday announced new funding toward a plan to a build a second undersea power cable to the mainland.

The federal government will contribute A$93.9 million ($70.8 million) for the Marinus Link project, a 370-kilometer (230-mile) cable under the Bass Strait, which when completed will be able to send 1,500 megawatts of capacity from Tasmania. The announcement comes after Morrison was last week snubbed from speaking at a global climate summit because of his government’s lack of ambition in tackling climate change.

The island state off Australia’s southern tip is pursuing what its leaders say is the world’s most ambitious renewable energy target, boosting hydro and wind generation to twice its own needs by 2040 and exporting the rest via the new cable. The strategy could play a key role in weaning the nation off coal, which still supplies around 60% of Australia’s power.

At the heart of the plan is a solution to store renewable power so that it can still be dispatched when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow. Tasmania is assessing several pumped-hydro projects, taking advantage of the state’s strong water resources to deploy the long-established storage technology.

Tasmania’s Bid to Become Australia’s Battery Gets Funding Boost

The State Energy and Emissions Reduction Deal announced by Morrison and the Tasmanian government on Tuesday also created a corporate vehicle, 62.5% owned by the federal government with the balance held by Tasmania, to progress the Marinus Link through to a final investment decision.

The deal is part of the federal government’s program to underwrite new energy transmission projects that include the first Battery of the Nation pumped-hydro site at Tarraleah. Work on that A$650 million development is set to start next year, when further new pumped-hydro projects are also expected to be announced.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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