ARENA has announced up to $2.5 million in funding to Hydro Tasmania to complete final feasibility analysis into the proposed redevelopment of the Tarraleah hydropower scheme in the highlands of Tasmania.

According to ARENA if the project is found to be technically and economically feasible, the redevelopment would more than double the scheme’s capacity from 104 megawatts (MW) to 220 MW with 20 hours of storage in one cycle.

As it stands the Tarraleah scheme currently generates around 634 GWh per year of largely base load energy, providing around 6.5% of Hydro Tasmania’s annual power generation.

This next stage of work follows on from a pre-feasibility study completed earlier this year which identified and assessed options for the future of the Tarraleah scheme.

The pre-feasibility study, funded by ARENA’s initial commitment to the Battery of the Nation initiative, found that an option to expand the capacity of the Tarraleah scheme and increase its flexibility was potentially feasible. The study concluded that capacity-optimised redevelopment would provide an asset that is best placed to support a future electricity market with higher levels of variable renewable generation.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the reports into assessing options for Tasmania’s hydro assets aligned with the work being completed under the broader ‘Battery of the Nation’ initiative.

“The report helps our understanding of future development opportunities in Tasmania and how they could make a larger contribution to the National Electricity Market (NEM).”

“This full scale feasibility of the Tarraleah scheme will enable Hydro Tasmania to determine the best options in terms of cost, market value and system flexibility. Tarraleah can play an integral part in Tasmania’s Battery of the Nation initiative, setting up a blueprint for increasing the state’s renewable resources to support the future NEM,” said Frischknecht.

The CEO of Hydro Tasmania, Steve Davy, said while pumped hydro and wind power attract most of the attention, getting more electricity from existing hydropower assets would also be crucial.

“We can start by finding another 116 MW from Tarraleah. This upgrade will also transform Tarraleah into Tasmania’s first truly 21st century hydropower station – adding stability and flexibility to Australia’s future clean energy market.”