Environmental design International

Hydropower in Tasmania and Norway can benefit from each other

Despite being on opposite sides of the planet there are many similarities between hydropower in Norway and Tasmania. Exchanging experiences can have great benefits in preparing for a more renewable future.

By Ingeborg Palm Helland

In both Norway and Tasmania there are many aging hydropower plants that were built during the 1900s. Both now see a growing need to get set for a future with a more complex energy market and more flexible power generation.

HydroCen and Hydro Tasmania have signed a 2-year MoU which will support the two agencies to collaborate on joint research and information exchange. The MoU aims to sustain and enhance the important role of hydrpower in Tasmania and Norway and provide a formal channel for the two organisations to learn from each other.

I was invited by Hydro Tasmania to give a lecture on the work that is being done in the HydroCen and Norway in environmental and social research related to hydropower.

After the lecture at Hydro Tasmania’s office in Hobart, I got the opportunity get a tour of several interesting hydropower plants and environmental projects, and meet many people working on relevant topics.

Hydropower balancing and export

 In particular, Hydro Tasmania is interested in the results of the CEDREN project HydroBalance, which was completed in 2017, as it has similarities with Tasmania’s “Battery of the Nation” project.

Hydro Tasmania is the major provider of electricity in Tasmania. They have 30 power plants and more than 50 reservoirs, giving a total capacity of more than 2600 megawatts.

Similar to Norway, where possibilities of exporting more hydropower with cable connections to Europe are being explored, Tasmania’s Battery of the Nation program is looking at opportunities to support a national energy market in transition, by opening up the full renewable energy potential in Tasmania, and making it available to mainland Australia through additional interconnection across Bass Strait.

Tasmania has enormous potential to provide the capacity needed to ‘firm’ new renewable energy generation that is becoming a greater part of Australia’s energy mix.

Unique species

Tasmania has several endemic species and Hydro Tasmania is committed to facilitate their protection in their rivers and lakes.

One example of this, is the project on artificial spawning habitats for galaxias, a small fish found in some of Hydro Tasmania’s hydropower reservoirs. The goal is to ensure that they have successful reproduction even if the water level is low during the spawning period.

Galaxias perform parental care and the adults stay continuously with the eggs until they hatch. The video shows several adults using the artificial spawning substrate.

Various environmental measures

Hydro Tasmania is also working on developing two-way migration solutions for eel. Presently they have a successful ladder for elvers migrating up past the Trevallyn Dam and are also planning a two-way migration system for adult fish moving back downstream.

Trevallyn Dam is 33 meters high and has a well-working ladder for eel, now they are planning a solution to guide eels back down again.

As in Norway, recreation along regulated watercourses is also very common in Tasmania. Hydro Tasmania therefore has a close dialogue with the “Inland Fisheries Services” to help ensure that the conditions for recreational fishing are as good as possible.

About HydroCen

HydroCen is a Research Center for Environmentally friendly Energy. Our goal is to develop knew technology and knowledge so hydropower can meet new challenges and enable the transition to a fully renewable energy system.

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