A fault in the Basslink interconnector between Tasmania and Victoria coupled with low rainfall in spring has put the Apple Isle in a challenging situation; but wind power is helping to maintain electricity supply.
Basslink enables trade of electricity between Tasmania and the National Electricity Market (NEM). It was implemented to protect Tasmania against the risk of energy shortages through drought and Victoria and southern states from forecast shortage of peak load power.
Running 290 kilometres from Loy Yang in Gippsland, Victoria, across Bass Strait to Bell Bay in Northern Tasmania, Basslink is the second longest subsea cable of its type in the world.
The 400kV DC interconnector is rated to transmit a continuous 500 megawatts in either direction and up to 630MW export from Tasmania for limited periods.
The Basslink interconnector originally malfunctioned on Sunday. The cause of the fault is yet to be determined, but it appears the issue is in a section of subsea cable approximately 100km off the coast of Tasmania.
Basslink Pty Ltd has since informed the NEM of a 60-day outage; however, that doesn’t necessarily mean the interruption will be that long.
Tasmania relies heavily on hydropower, but a record dry experienced in the state over the last four months has seen storage plummet to 24.6 per cent.
“While water levels are lower than average, there are still significant water reserves and wind power to feed into the system,” said Matthew Groom, Tasmania’s Minister for Energy
” However, there can be no doubt that we are dealing with a very unusual set of circumstances with lower than average Spring rainfall and the current fault with the Basslink cable.”
Thankfully, Tasmania has among the highest per capita wind power generation in the world. The state’s largest facility is Hydro Tasmania’s 168MW Musselroe Wind Farm, which commenced operations in 2013.
Hydro Tasmania also recently announced it would restart the Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) plant at Tamar Valley Power Station.
“As a result of today’s developments, Hydro Tasmania will investigate bringing forward the re-start date of the CCGT from January 20 next year,” says part of a statement from the company concerning the situation.