Finkel Review presents great opportunity for Tasmania

The Finkel Review’s clean energy target presents a great opportunity for Tasmania, Tasmanian Minister for Energy; State Growth; Environment and Parks the Hon. Matthew Groom said at a CEDA event in Hobart on Australia’s energy future.

“The Finkel Review is a very important body of work nationally,” he said.

“I think it’s got some very important elements and ones which are relevant to Tasmania.

“It does recognise that we are committed to emissions reduction and therefore we need to have a plan for how we are going to achieve that in a way that is consistent with reliable, affordable power for all Australians.

“I do believe it presents a great opportunity for Tasmania in maximising our further renewable development potential and the contribution that we can make to delivering clean energy into the national market.”

Mr Groom said the Tasmanian Government wants to see proper recognition of hydroelectricity in the clean energy target.

“I’ve made the point to Dr Finkel and will continue to pursue this through COAG, the meeting of the energy ministers and also the premiers and the Prime Minister,” he said.

“Specifically, what we’ve argued for is that there is a proper recognition of the…reinvestment that Tasmania will be making into the future into our hydro system.

“We’ve got great assets but they are ageing and we’re spending very significant amounts of money in maintaining and reinvesting in those assets.

“We want to make sure that that is duly recognised in any future target.”

Mr Groom said he acknowledges the special role that Tasmania can play as the battery of the nation.

“There is no doubt that Tasmania can potentially play an even more significant role when it comes to delivering clean energy into the national market,” he said.

“We’ve got untapped resources in wind, in solar, but hydro is the core of our energy system and that’s why we have partnered with the Commonwealth Government and ARENA, potentially the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, to be exploring ways for maximising hydro.

“Not just for the benefit of Tasmania – and it can have significant benefit for us through investment, jobs and energy security – but for the benefit of the nation.”

On the issue of energy pricing Mr Groom said the Tasmanian Government is very conscious of the importance of putting downward pressure on power prices.

“We did see very significant increases in household and small business power prices under previous governments,” he said.

“We’ve been very pleased with the efforts of TasNetworks in doing what it can in putting downward pressure on the network costs.

“There’s been very significant reductions, as much as 20 per cent, the equivalent of about $110 per household in Tasmania.”

Mr Groom said a national approach needs to be taken as we transition to low carbon generation.

“Importantly, that does not mean the Commonwealth Government determining a position for the country,” he said.

“That’s not the answer.

“It is about all of the governments of Australia working collectively together to ensure we’re on a sensible path when it comes to the transition.”

Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) Chief Executive Officer, Ian Kay spoke about the importance of ARENA’s work in creating the building blocks for the new energy future.

“ARENA is there to help people experiment, some ideas work, some ideas don’t,” he said.

“The most recent high-profile building block that we’ve completed – in conjunction with the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) – provided the impetus for large scale solar to really happen commercially without any further ARENA support being required.

“This has been a major focus for the two organisations over the last 12-18 months and $85 million of ARENA and about $370 million of CEFC debt commercially provided has catalysed almost 600 megawatts of solar PV.”

Mr Kay said ARENA see the Finkel Review as creating a road map for ever-increasing renewable energy penetration.

“There no doubt the Finkel Review and what it has recommended has been seen very positively,” he said.

“It has pretty clear themes; security, reliability – and what we really like and what’s been missing – is some form of planning.”