Experts say more investment in renewable energy is needed to safeguard Tasmania’s energy future.
At a future energy forum in Hobart on April 6, 2017, experts from the University of Tasmania, the Grattan Institute and the corporate sector have agreed that greater investment in renewable energy is essential to safeguard the state’s future energy supply.
The panel members were asked to reflect on the question: what will the energy sector look like in Tasmania in 2050?
Tony Wood, Energy Program Director, The Grattan Institute
Mardi Dungey, Professor of Economics and Finance, TSBE, University of Tasmania
Lance Balcombe, CEO, TasNetworks
Philip Harrington, Energy Consultant, Director, Strategy. Policy. Research
Chair: Heather Lovell, Associate Professor, School of Social Sciences, University of Tasmania
University of Tasmania Professor of Economics and Finance Mardi Dungey said consumers will largely dictate how the energy sector looks in 2050.
“We have to decide where we want to go with this. If we really want green power there will be a different cost to that than if we say ‘We are willing to ignore the pollution cost’,” Prof Dungey said.
“Renewable energy doesn’t necessarily have to be more volatile,” she said. “It is in the current way the markets are set up, but there might be ways in which we can change that. “There is a distinct possibility that redesigning these markets alone could deliver significant savings. But just like building a new interconnector it will take time – but a lot less money – to get that right and it needs some of our best minds on the problem. We need to get our representatives to reflect on long term investment, not short term responsiveness.”
National energy industry analysts Philip Harrington and Tony Wood said Tasmania was well placed to benefit from the shift towards renewable energy as the world adjusts to climate change.
“Tasmania has a lot to learn from the latest energy crisis, as well as from recent events in the National Energy Market,” said Mr Harrington, a former deputy secretary of the Tasmanian Department of Infrastructure, Energy & Resources.
“We can no longer imagine that energy security will be delivered by magic, or by the market, nor by profit-maximising Government Business Enterprises, or by relying on Victoria and other states to meet our structural shortfall in electricity generation,” he said.
“This represents a significant opportunity for electricity generators – if they can seize it. We need to invest in order to future-proof our energy system, in renewable energy including wind, solar and enhanced hydro; in energy efficiency; and in fuel switching away from fossil fuels. Getting our energy policy right would create investment, jobs, sustainability and security.”
Mr Wood, who is Energy Program director at the Grattan Institute said the decades ahead would be challenging but Tasmania could benefit, given its potential for wind and hydro power generation.
“The global community is, with all its challenges, committed to addressing climate change. That means effectively decarbonising by mid-century,” Mr Wood said.
“Tasmania is very well placed to be on the opportunity side of the ledger. Hydro was an historical advantage. Together with wind, it can become so again.”
Lance Balcombe, chief executive officer of TasNetworks said the Tasmanian Government-owned corporation was positioning itself for a future where the customer will expect greater choice and control over their electricity needs.
“This needs to be done is a manner which ensures that our customers continue to access a safe, reliable and affordable electricity network,” Mr Balcome said.
“TasNetworks is operating in a very dynamic environment in continual transition and it is critical that we build the appropriate resources, skills and technologies to ensure we can deliver against a range of energy futures that may emerge on the pathway to 2050.”
About the event:
The forum was organised by the Institute for the Study of Social Change and the Future Energy group at the University of Tasmania.
Future Energy is a new interdisciplinary group at the University of Tasmania whose core objective is to engage with energy institutions and cultures in order to produce high quality research that interrogates and clarifies options for future energy provision in Tasmania, and beyond.
For more information please email Heather.Lovell@utas.edu.au