Tasmania turns to diesel power to prevent blackouts 

Posted: March 25, 2016 by oldbrew in Energy, Incompetence

Hydro power in Tasmania [image credit: ABC Rural]

Hydro power in Tasmania [image credit: ABC Rural]

Tasmania has got itself into a power generation mess and has been forced into expensive emergency measures to ‘keep the lights on’, reports PEI. For more background on the policies that led to this situation, see here.

The government of Tasmania believes a decision to use diesel power generation on a temporary basis can prevent power blackouts, despite present and ongoing difficulties with its power infrastructure.

The island’s Basslink subsea cable, a vital interconnection with Australia, has been under repair since breaking in December, while drought has reduced water for its hydroelectric power facilities to record lows.

The country has been forced to re-open an old gas-fired power plant in order to continue providing necessary electricity for inhabitants and Michael Connarty, senior adviser to energy minister Matthew Groom, acknowledged to Power Engineering International that conditions have ‘presented Tasmania with a difficult challenge that will require very careful management.’

“At this time the majority of the power supply is via hydro, gas and wind. As part of ensuring energy security, Hydro Tasmania is bringing in a further 20 MW of diesel generation to help the situation until autumn/ winter rains arrive.”

With lack of rainfall continuing unabated, pressure is growing on the Tasmanian Government to run an energy saving awareness campaign and a heater replacement program, with power use set to spike in the colder months.

Source: Tasmanian government confident diesel power can prevent blackouts – Power Engineering International

See also: Tasmania’s energy scandal

  1. oldbrew says:

    The Marcus Review notes:

    ‘For the record, Tasmania is not immune to drought and dry conditions (see 1888, 1967 and 2008 for example). The problem is that the last couple of times Tasmania had dry spells, it had cheap and reliable forms of backup power to reduce the energy stress. This time it does not.’

    Meanwhile in the UK another [relatively] cheap and reliable power source closed yesterday.

    ‘After failing to win a contract from the National Grid, Longannet closed on 24 March 2016.’

  2. Don Keiller says:

    Of course these are “clean” diesels, powered by biodiesel. Moreover their exhaust is scrubbed of all particulates and nitrogen oxides. Last, but not least, the CO2 is captured and stored deep underground in naturally porous rock.


  3. E.M.Smith says:

    During the Democrat caused power problems in California under Governor Grey “out” Davis, I got lots of experience at dealing with power outages, blackouts and the more rare brownouts.

    The basic solution is a mix of battery / inverter, and a generator of some sort. This is my minimal kit that I carry in the car for use anywhere:


    A 300 W inverter costs about $30 here. Your car becomes the generator and a long power cord is helpfull if putting power far from the car. I have a 1 kW inverter that cost $70 some time back that is enough to power most of the essentials. I was building a battery box to be charged via $50 or so battery charger designed for cars when we tossed out Davis via our only recall election… and the problem went away. The battery box was sized for an hour and was enough for most outages. Basically a 1 hour UPS for the fridge, communications center, lights. To add heat / cooling and the electric stove would take about 5 kW and wasn’t needed in this climate especially for short outages.

    Longer term use or bigger needs other solutions would be better.


    covers it in high detail.

    FWIW, I found the Honda generators best and quietest. Quiet is very important. I had 2 generators. A 1 kW Honda and a 5 kW cheaper US make. The Briggs & Stratton engine on the big one made it painful to use. The Honda drove all the essentials and I only used the big one for the A/C and washer/dryer. The time needed for the governor on the generator to ramp up power was so slow that the AC had issues (large window or wall unit) and likely caused the compressor to fail (or it was just old and cheap). Doing the laundry was low on the list of things to do during power outages… So that 1 kW Honda was used almost exclusively.

    Now I’d likely buy a 2 kW or 3 kW Honda and be done. RV folks tend to a 5 kW Onan to run the whole coach and charge house batteries, so that’s the other extreme (that also costs a few $ thousand more).

    In short, this is a mature tech and basically you turn the core needs of your home into an RV ( Caravan or recreational vehicle ) power system. It isn’t hard and cost is proportional to total power and lifespan of equipment. The car provides a generator and battery for improvised use of about 400 W for an hour or two (more if the gas tank is full). For kW and days, build the battery box, buy a large inverter (that makes it easier to meet surge demand fast) the either have a wall power based battery charger if the outages are shorter than battery life, or get that generator if you measure outages in partial days to days.

    As the UK and Australia ( and increasingly the USA under Democrats) seem hell bent on destruction of reliable power, folks need to start there preparations now.

    FWIW, it’s great fun when your lights and TV are on, and chilled wine in the fridge, while everyone around you is in the dark…

    I user standard camping type stoves for cooking, so avoided that electrical need. Propane is best and easiest for most folks. I now have astove collection of a dozen sorts, so I’ve pretty much tried them all…


    My on the road kit is an Esbit or Trangia alcohol camp stove as the “minimal” kit. (I started this due to needing a quake kit since a big one might mean living from the car for a few days if trapped away from home). For occasional home use, a 2 burner propane is simple and effective, a one burner is “enough”. For long duration use, kerosene is better.


    Has more on that.

    For a few $ hundred you can be comfortale though most Bad Things, For a few $ thousnd, you will hardly notice…

    Gear was used in 7ish quake, dozens of road trips, and years of Government Stupidity, so not a theoretical.

  4. oldbrew says:

    EM Smith: you probably don’t live in an apartment block then 😉

  5. Joe Public says:

    The forthright opinions of a(nother) blogger of the omnishambles:


  6. […] Source: Tasmania turns to diesel power to prevent blackouts  | Tallbloke’s Talkshop […]

  7. karabar says:

    “The country has been forced to re-open an old gas-fired power plant”……..Balderdash
    Trivial, perhaps, but Tasmania is not a country, but the smallest (and oldest) of five Australian States.
    The “old gas-fired power plant” was commissioned in September 2009 and logged in the order of 35,000 equivalent operating hours. When asset ownership transferred to Hydro Tasmania it was laid up for over two years. (Had this not been the case, all else being equal, there would be no “crisis”) The base load facility is a modern state of the art CCGT in excellent, as-new condition. The peaking plant has some issues due to curtailment of maintenance activities since the change in ownership.

  8. oldbrew says:

    Yes, ‘country’ should read ‘state’ in the PEI report.

    Our link to the Marcus Review explains the basic facts of the case.

  9. Climatism says:

    Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    Tasmania, the ‘Greeniest’ state in Australia advancing fossil fuels to guarantee power supply?!

    But but but what about wind and solar ? Aren’t they ‘the future’? Or are they just symbols of the fashionable deep-green “save the planet” fantasy that are completely incapable of supplying cheap, reliable, 24/7 base-load power?

  10. E.M.Smith says:


    No, I don’t.

    But when on the road live in hotels that can be similar. Add one of those “car starter packs” that have a modest lead acid gell cell in them and clip onto the car battery to start it. Get one with a 12 vdc outlet for “accessories”… Keep it charged. In a power outage they often have a built in LED light good for days, or plug in my minimal kit for more light plus cell phone or laptop charging or radio use. Light, communication, entertainment. Trangia or propane camp stove to cook. Good sleeping bag for warmth (down to OMG below 0 based on your location).

    It isn’t about your facility, it is all about the attitude… making what you need for what faces you as a challenge.

    So even in a car or hotel room, I have what I need.

    Oh, and clipped to the car battery, the portable pack charges from the car, if power is out for days to weeks… There are also more micro sized generators you could run in an apartment (on patio, balcony, or parking structure). If you need pointer to hardware, ping me… Or maybe I’ll write it up for an article 🙂


    Is a bit small, IMHO, at 700W to 800W in about a 21 lb package, but it does show how small you can get easily (way small exist, down to watch sized, but…).

    As long as you have access to air you can make electricity. (There is even a camp stove that charges your cell phone and runs on stick and twigs… thermoelectric generator stove).

    Oh, and at 56 db the generator above is very quiet.

  11. oldbrew says:

    Some entrepeneur may come along and offer home generation kits if power supplies become erratic.

  12. E.M.Smith says:

    Honda already sells one

    My generator plus battery box solution was prior to this. Had I the money and need, it is the ideal solution…