Hydro is forging ahead with its TasWind King Island wind-farm feasibility study despite the lack of a commercial partner.
The Chinese look to be frontrunners for the $2 billion TasWind, which would be the biggest wind farm in the southern hemisphere and change both the social and economic fabric of King Island and North-West Tasmania.
Hydro-funded research into the impact the 200-turbine wind farm would have on the King Island brand started last week.
Hydro is also funding $40,000 feasibility grants to island beef farmers and others keen to re-open the abattoir, closed by the Swift company in 2012.
Hydro engineers are using radar technology called “lidar” at different locations to measure wind speeds at altitude to map out the layout of the turbines.
But the TasWind project needs a cashed-up investor before laying the underground cable that will transport electricity to Victoria and potentially mainland Tasmania.
The cable cost would be about a third of the $2 billion total bill, project director Tony Fields said.
He said Hydro was putting together a business case for potential investors “in a rapidly changing, dynamic electricity market”.
Mr Field said potential clients included the Chinese, which are already significant investors in the Australian energy market.
“They are active in the Australian market but we have no firm indications at this stage,” he said.
“It’s about getting the economics correct, we are exploring all avenues.”
Hydro has overcome most community opposition to the project, with only a legal challenge by the No TasWind Farm group to be resolved.
Chinese companies are already multi-billion-dollar partners with Hydro and China emerged as the biggest player in the Australian energy market last week, after federal Treasurer Joe Hockey approved the State Grid Corporation of China to take a 19.9 per cent stake in energy infrastructure firm SP AusNet.
Earlier this year, Hydro and Chinese business Guohua Energy Investment Corporation signed a $1.6 billion deal to build and operate wind farms across Australia.
Hydro and Guohua Energy Investment Corporation are partners in the $398 million Musselroe wind farm.
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