May 24, 2016

New North-West wind farm hinges on second Basslink cable

HELEN KEMPTON | Mercury | May 23, 2016 |

A fresh proposal has been floated to build a wind farm on Robbins Island, off Tasmania’s North-West Coast.

The 300-turbine farm’s construction would depend on the promise of a second Basslink cable and help from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt and Federal Braddon MP Brett Whiteley travelled to the island at low tide today to spruik the benefits of the proposed $1.6 billion investment, but no Commonwealth funding was promised.

Instead, the development hinges on a second power cable from the state’s North-West Coast to Victoria being proved feasible. A study is in progress.

The existing Basslink cable has been out of order since earlier year and is set to remain so until late June.

Mr Hunt said North-West Tasmania had some of the best wind resources in the world.

“One of the reasons the Turnbull Government established the feasibility study into a second electricity interconnector, led by former Tasmanian federal minister Warwick Smith, was to see if we could develop this renewable energy source,” he said.

“It would provide additional energy security for Tasmania as well as being able to feed that energy back into the other states.”

There are already two other wind farms in the region and another in the wings – Hydro Tasmania’s Woolnorth and Bluff Point and a private proposal at Granville Harbour.

It is not the first time a wind farm has been proposed for Robbins Island, an uninhabited outpost owned by the Hammond family and used to graze Waygu cattle.

In 2011, the Hammonds and Eureka Funds Management announced they were planning to construct a 220-turbine wind farm located mostly on Robbins Island.

It did not come to fruition.

Chauncey Hammond said in March that Tasmania’s energy crisis was behind the fresh proposal but it would only be viable if a second Basslink cable was in service.

“Victoria needs green energy. The solution is where the second interconnector discussion comes in.,” Mr Hammond said.

“Our understanding is the second interconnector would also assist the Tasmanian grid. If it came out of Montagu, we estimate it could save up to 85km of undersea cable, which is a significant saving.”

Then Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced last year the Clean Energy Finance Corporation would be banned from investing in wind power and rooftop solar.

That policy has now been dropped.

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