The Tasmanian Department of State Growth (Department) has released the ‘Draft Renewable Energy Action Plan 2020’ (Draft Action Plan) for public comment.

As a part of the Tasmania-First Energy Policy, the Tasmanian Government has set a target to deliver 100 per cent self-sufficiency in renewable energy generation by 2022 – with a 200 per cent target by 2040. It has also committed to delivering the lowest regulated electricity prices in the National Electricity Market by 2022 (Renewable Energy Target).

The Draft Action plan has been released to define a pathway for Tasmania to reach the Renewable Energy Target, help safeguard energy supply and transition the state to renewables, particularly as the economy looks for ways to recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

The Draft Action Plan outlines 20 actions under three key priority areas that detail the Government’s intention to work with the Tasmanian community and renewable energy industry to achieve the  Renewable Energy Target over the next 20 years. The three priority areas are:

  • Priority 1 – Transforming Tasmania into a global renewable energy powerhouse;
  • Priority 2 – Making energy work for the Tasmanian community; and
  • Priority 3 – Growing the economy and providing jobs.

Public consultation on the Draft Action Plan closes on 11 September 2020.

Key Actions

The key actions proposed by the Draft Action Plan include:

  • Action 1.1 Renewable Energy Target – introduce legislation which sets the Renewable Energy Target and demonstrates the Government’s intention to expand Tasmania’s renewable generation. This legislation will allow Tasmania to increase energy exports into the National Energy Market, attract and develop new industries such as renewable hydrogen and enhance Tasmania’s competitive advantage as a renewables based, low carbon economy.
  • Action 1.2 Project Marinus and Battery of the Nation – advance the development of major national renewable energy projects, including Project Marinus and Battery of the Nation to provide reliable services to mainland Australia and enable Tasmania to benefit from the global hydrogen industry. The Project Marinus proposal is for a 1500-megawatt capacity undersea electricity connection, linking Tasmania and Victoria, which will form part of a potential new Bass Straight interconnection. The Battery of the Nation initiative investigates and develops pathways for future development opportunities which will allow Tasmania to make a significant contribution to the National Energy Market.
  • Action 1.3 Renewable Hydrogen Action Plan – implement the Renewable Hydrogen Action Plan which sets out goals and actions for Tasmania to develop the renewable hydrogen industry. A key action of the Renewable Hydrogen Action Plan allocates $50 million to support renewable hydrogen by setting up a fund, granting concessional loans, facilitating land and infrastructure access and providing assistance to developing offtakes for hydrogen end-use.
  • Action 1.5 Renewable Energy Centre of Excellence – establish a world class Renewable Energy Centre for Excellence to undertake innovative research, training and collaboration which will solidify partnerships between industry, research sector, academic institutions and the Government.
  • Action 1.7 Renewable Energy Coordination Framework – review of the current regulations and development of a new policy framework. The new policy framework will coordinate and support renewable energy growth and focus on efficiently delivering major energy projects, including new transmission which is required to unlock generation capacity and yield load investment within the prospective renewable energy zones. The framework will also address community concerns and promote local benefits resulting from wind and solar projects.
  • Action 1.8 Transport Industry Emissions Pathway – reduce Tasmania’s transport emissions and costs and improve energy security by supporting the uptake of electric vehicles powered by locally-produced renewable energy. The Government will install 14 fast charging stations at 12 strategic locations across Tasmania by the end of 2020 as a part of the ChangeSmart Grants Program.  
  • Action 2.1 COVID-19 Electricity Relief – provide a 100 per cent waiver to eligible small business customers and community services organisations for the first quarterly electricity bill issued after April 2020 and cap electricity rates at 2019-20 rates for all household, business and community sector organisation on regulated tariffs.
  • Action 2.2 Pricing Framework – break away from mainland Australia electricity contracts and establish a wholesale Tasmanian pricing framework that is based on Tasmanian electricity system costs only. 
  • Action 2.4 Advanced Meters – continue to monitor, evaluate and ensure the progressive rollout of advanced meters across Tasmania. The imitative seeks to ensure that all Tasmanian households receive an advanced meter which will enable electricity retailers to continue to offer energy users the combination of advanced meter data and digital platforms and provide users greater insights into their energy use.
  • Action 2.5 On-Farm Energy Audit and Capital Grant Program – continue to roll out the on-farms energy imitative, which has provided farmers with affordable and predictable power prices.  
  • Action 2.6 Energy Efficiency Programs:
    • continue to provide the Energy Saver Loan and Subsidy Program which encourages low income households to invest in energy efficiency products to lower their electricity bills;
    • continue to offer No Interest Loans which provides subsidy of up to 50 per cent toward purchasing new energy efficient appliances. The Government will also provide an extra $1 million as a result of COVID-19 to enable further loans to be provided to healthcare card receipts; and
    • provide targeted schemes including Power$mart Homes, Power$mart Businesses and the Tasmanian Energy Efficiency Loan Scheme.
  • Action 3.1 Renewables Tasmania – establish the Renewables Tasmania to promote, develop and manage the production of renewable energy across the state. The body will be responsible for regulating the energy sector, engaging with key stakeholders and promoting renewable development, particularly Tasmania’s emerging biomass and ocean sectors.
  • Action 3.3 Promotion of the Tasmanian ‘brand’ – develop and promote the Tasmanian energy ‘brand’ as a model for innovation and sustainability. The Government will work closely with Hydro Tasmania, the Tasmanian Climate Change Office, the Department and the Tasmanian community to develop a major public campaign which will promote and support continued investment in all forms of renewable energy in Tasmania, such as wind and solar. In particular, the Government will focus on progressing Project Marinus which will unlock significant investment in new wind generation projects.
  • Action 3.4 Energising Tasmania – provide training in major energy development related priority skills needs areas, such as engineering, project management, civil construction and trades through the Energising Australia partnership.
  • Action 3.5 Antarctic Gateway Strategy – the Department to work with Tasmania’s Antarctic and energy business sectors to capitalise on the major economic opportunity presented by Antarctica’s intention to replace fossil fuel-based energy with clean renewable energy.

It will be important for businesses to consider the risks and opportunities presented by the Draft Action Plan as it will likely guide the Department’s and key stakeholders’ approach to investment in, and development of, renewable energy projects in Tasmania for the foreseeable future.

Lodge a submission

The Department is seeking feedback on the Draft Action Plan. Submissions can be made to renewableenergy@stategrowth.tas.gov.au until 11 September 2020

Please contact us if you would like to discuss the potential implications of the Draft Action Plan for your business - or require any assistance with the drafting of a submission to the Department.