The Tasmanian Government is under pressure to allocate more electricity to one of the state’s biggest employers so it can pursue a new project.
Labor Leader Rebecca White has told Parliament the Norske Skog paper mill at Boyer has been knocked back for another 50 megawatts.
“Isn’t it the case that the power constraints that you’ve created over the past 10 years are now putting a handbrake on our economy and impacting growth plans at the Boyer mill,” she asked the Premier.
“They’ve been told they cannot access any more power, which means their new project cannot proceed.”
Jeremy Rockliff didn’t directly address the question.
“We are looking forward to continuing our working relationship to support operations at the Boyer mill site,” said the Premier.
“What this is about is, once again, talking Tasmania down and scaring Tasmanians.”
Norkse Skog has confirmed it’s looking at ways of reducing its carbon footprint by replacing its coal-fired boiler.
“The easiest and most straightforward option would be to replace the existing coal fired boiler with electrode boilers, therefore the company has been talking to Hydro concerning the potential to contract an additional 50 MW per annum,” said a company spokesman.
“Hydro has advised the company that they do not have any spare capacity, but they would be willing to firm supply (at a cost) if the mill could source the power from other generators such as wind or solar power from either Tasmania or the mainland. The company is continuing to examine these options, albeit they would involve substantially higher operating costs.”
Hydro Tasmania has clarified the situation with a statement from CEO Ian Brooksbank.
“Norske Skog recently requested a significant increase in power supply of roughly 50 per cent. We are managing that request alongside requests from other industries wanting to expand or set up in Tasmania,” he said.
“Energy supply and demand are currently in balance; that is, Tasmania uses as much as it generates. Hydro Tasmania can supply energy for households and their growing needs as they increasingly electrify, as well as our current industrial load.
“However, new renewable generation, most likely wind, will be needed to support growth in new and existing industries. Hydro Tasmania will have an important role in firming, that is filling the gaps when the wind doesn’t blow.
“This illustrates why it is so important for Tasmania to increase its hydropower capacity through Battery of the Nation, attract more wind and solar, and to build additional interconnection through Marinus Link. These projects will underpin future economic growth.”