Study into $1bn Basslink 2 begins
PLANS for a second Basslink interconnector between Tasmania and the National Electricity Market (NEM) are a step closer. In late November, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and Tasnetworks announced $20 million for a new scoping study that will examine the preferred route of a second interconnector, its optimum capacity, cost estimate, and potential timing for development. Studies of a second interconnector and the possible role it could play in developing Tasmania’s renewable energy resources are not new, with the Tasmanian Government commissioning an earlier study in 2010–11. More recently, the April 2017 Tamblyn Review and ‘Battery of the Nation’ feasibility studies were released, which built on a preliminary report from June 2016. “Preliminary findings from [the Tamblyn Review] by Hydro Tasmania indicate a second interconnector could allow Tasmania to expand its wind and hydro capabilities and add more power to the national grid, with a net benefit of $500 million,” Federal energy minister Josh Frydenberg said. However, in his report Dr Tamblyn also concluded that “under currently anticipated future energy market conditions there is a remaining uncertainty as to whether a 2IC would be an economically feasible investment”. The scoping study comes at a crucial time, with energy security being one of the key pillars of the country’s new National Energy Guarantee policy. It also follows a breakdown of the current Basslink interconnector in December 2015, which saw the underwater cable out of action for almost six months. The 400kv DC electricity interconnector, owned by Keppel Infrastructure Trust (KIT), has been transmitting power since April 2006, with its 290 km undersea cable component the second longest of its type in the world. Basslink’s revenue increased to $41.5 million in the first half of FY17, from $6.4 million in the first half of FY16. However, KIT is also considering options to sell the asset. In a 24 November statement KIT confirmed it was undertaking a strategic review of its interests in the Basslink undersea electricity and telecommunications interconnector.
A map of the Basslink interconnector.