The Marinus Link and Gippsland

The proposed Marinus Link and the Tasmanian Battery of the Nation (BOTN) plan have been getting a fair amount of publicity. The new cables presumably will either duplicate the Basslink cable or go to another location in South Gippsland. Marinus will increase the capacity from the current 600 megawatts to two gigawatts or more than the size of two of our remaining coal fired generators. An article by Emily Jarvie in Renew (No 154) examined the project in some detail.

Her article looked at the divide between lithium battery energy storage (shallow) and pumped hydro storage (deep) – a divide which is, unfortunately, becoming politicised with green groups supporting the former and Liberal governments the latter. A paper from the Bob Brown Foundation is quite critical of BOTN (and other pumped hydro plans) from a financial viewpoint, whilst for some conservative governments, help solving global warming issues can be put off until tomorrow.

But the climate crisis dictates that we need both and as the handling of the coronavirus has indicated finance is not a problem in an emergency. The Baw Baw Pumped Hydro proposals published in this blog last year copped some ‘green’ ire in the social media where the advantages of assisting the renewables revolution, water savings and helping a ‘just transition’ by providing jobs in the Valley were ignored.

There are other advantages for the Marinus link for Gippsland. Renewable energy from Tassie could completely replace Yallourn or Loy Yang B. Likewise the Star of the South offshore wind project can replace another and hook directly in to Basslink. As the Valley generators close (probably sooner than later) more capacity becomes available on the mains transmission lines to Melbourne and there will be plenty of room for further projects in the State governments’ Gippsland Renewable Energy Zone.

Projects such as Marinus are advantageous to the whole National Energy Market as is any strengthening of the network. It is not a matter of either/or but both, and States should not to try to pick winners as with local ‘picks’ – like coal to hydrogen and carbon capture and storage – they are often wrong. The climate crisis is above party loyalties. A fast-forwarded Marinus link will easily replace Yallourn, now to close in 2028.