Tasmania’s competitive edge in renewables

Epuron director highlights Tasmania’s unique opportunity

Speaking at the Tasmanian Energy Development Conference on Thursday 5 November Epuron co-founder and executive director Andrew Durran shared insights into the state’s unique opportunity to capitalise on Australia’s growing renewable energy market.

Epuron is one of Australia’s leading developers of wind farms and utility scale solar projects. Founded in Sydney in 2003, it has since expanded across the country and is currently involved in the planning process for 14 projects with a total potential generating capacity of 3,500 megawatts (MW). Six of those are in Tasmania and have a combined potential capacity of almost 900 MW.

Durran explained there is a lot of work to be done by the industry and governments to generate the pipeline in renewables that’s needed for the Australian Energy Market Operator’s Integrated System Plan. The plan requires 26-50 Gigawatts (GW) of new grid-scale renewables over the next 20 years.

He said Tasmania’s natural resources place it at a distinct advantage for the transition of the national energy market, and his analysis showed that it is the state with the greatest scope for growth in renewables. Durran’s forecasts show that based on opportunities that have already been identified Tasmania could more than double its renewable energy generation capacity and yield.

“Australia’s national energy market is in transition and the scale of the opportunity for renewables is huge. So far, only half the amount of wind generation required has been approved for development. Tasmania is uniquely placed to take advantage of this opportunity, particularly for wind and storage,” he said.

However, Durran noted, the state also has some key challenges to address to make it more attractive for investment to build Tasmania’s renewable capacity. Chief among them are system strength, lengthy planning approval timeframes, and uncertainty around policies and impacts for key species like the Wedge-tailed Eagle.

“There is no guarantee that Tasmania’s natural advantage is enough for it to pull ahead of other states in terms of renewable capacity growth. There are some issues to be resolved to pave the way for that to happen, and the renewable energy industry is really reliant on the Tasmanian government to fix them.”

Epuron’s Tasmanian projects in development include the Western Plains Wind Farm near Stanley, the St Patricks Plains Wind Farm in the Central Highlands, and the Guildford Wind Farm and Hellyer Wind Farm located adjacent to each other in the north west, south of Burnie.