The current failure of the Basslink subsea power link between mainland Australia and Tasmania has meant gas pipelines are vital to ensuring the Apple Isle’s energy supply.
According to EnergyQuest, the Basslink’s failure has cost Tasmania approximately $560 million since the outage started in late-December 2015.
In the absence of power flowing through the Basslink system, a gas pipeline running between Victoria and Tasmania was employed to pick up the slack.
“The Tasmanian situation would have been even worse without the back-up of Victorian gas supplies from Longford via the Tasmanian Gas Pipeline (TGP), the island State’s only remaining energy supply link the mainland,” said EnergyQuest CEO Dr Graeme Bethune.
ExxonMobil’s Longford plant in Gippsland was the main provider for Tasmania, with production increasing by 66 per cent in Q1 to 64.2 PJ, meeting increased demand from Melbourne and New South Wales on top of Tasmania.
This resulted in the Longford plant’s highest Q1 production levels in at least a decade.
“During Q1, gas supplied 30 per cent of Tasmania’s electricity, up from virtually zero in Q1 2015,” said Dr Bethune.
“Gas could have actually done a lot more but it took a month from the time of the Basslink failure to recommission the gas turbines that had been earmarked for sale at the Tamar Valley power station.”
Former Howard government minister, Mr Warwick Smith and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation are now undertaking a study into a duplicate cable, Basslink 2, at an estimated cost of $1 billion.
“Any studies into improving Tasmania’s energy security should not be limited to one option costing one billion dollars,” said Dr Bethune.
“As the current crisis has shown, Tasmania already has a good energy security blanket in the TGP which was still only utilised an average 58 per cent during the crisis.
“The main constraint on doing more was limited gas-fired generation in Tasmania.
“Keeping the Tamar Valley power station on standby could be a much more cost-effective option than a second Basslink.”
Basslink is a high-voltage subsea power cable crossing Bass Strait, connecting the Loy Yang Power Station in north eastern Victoria to the George Town substation in north eastern Tasmania, allowing two way flows to service peak and base load electricity demand.
Basslink’s Singaporean-based owners of the have now targeted a revised restart for the end of this month.
The 736 km TGP was commissioned in 2002 and is a subsea and onshore gas pipeline system that transports Gippsland Basin gas to Tasmania.