The Australian government has pledged a funding support of A$56m ($40m) to Project Marlin, a high-voltage 1,200MW interconnector proposed to be built across the Bass Strait to deliver renewable power to both Tasmania and Victoria.
The funding support follows the release of a feasibility study on Project Marlin by TasNetworks which concludes that the second Bass Straight interconnector is technically feasible and viable economically under various plausible scenarios.
The report said that the interconnector project will unlock new generation and storage in Tasmania, thereby playing a role in reducing electricity prices while boosting reliability in the National Electricity Market. Project Marlin is also expected to boost the Tasmanian and Victorian economies by A$1.6bn ($1.14bn), while opening up 1,400 jobs.
The capital cost of the 1,200MW Project Marlin is estimated to be in the range of A$1.9-3.1bn ($1.36-2.21bn) as per the feasibility study.
According to the Australian government, the renewable generation and storage unlocked by the second interconnector project is expected to offset up to 25 million tons of emissions by 2030.
According to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the interconnector project would help in providing more affordable and reliable electricity for homes and businesses while his government’s funding support would fast track the delivery of the Marinus Link.
Morrison said: “After a summer of blackouts, the interconnector will mean more reliable power at lower prices for homes and businesses in Tasmania and on the mainland.
“Tasmania has the potential to be Australia’s battery to keep the lights on and running costs down and we’ll be there backing them to get there.”
TasNetworks will move ahead with further refinement and analysis on the interconnector project to plan a service and funding model and pricing arrangements for recovering the project costs. In the next phase of the feasibility, the company will consider the planning and consultation process required for the execution of the Project Marlin.
The final feasibility study report is expected to be released in December 2019.
The initial feasibility study for Project Marlin is supported by a joint funding of A$20m ($14.3m) from the Australia and Tasmanian governments, through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and TasNetworks, respectively.
TasNetworks CEO Lance Balcombe said: “Marinus Link is a strategic enabler of greater storage potential in Tasmania and further development of renewables in Victoria and Tasmania.
“Marinus Link is poised to support energy security by providing a reliable supply of electricity to Tasmanians and other Australians. This is currently being explored through Hydro Tasmania’s Battery of the Nation Project.”