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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 11

I The Present Energy Economy

II Australian Energy Consumption

III Research And Development

IV Coal

V Oil And Natural Gas

VI Solar Energy

VII Nuclear Energy

VIII Bagasse Firewood And Other Biomass

IX Electric Power Generation And Distribution electric Power Generation And Distribution
i Types of generating stations
ii Transmission and distribution
iii System load control
iv Australian manufacturing in the power industry
v Queensland
vi New South Wales
vii Victoria
viii Tasmania
ix South Australia
x Western Australia
xi Northern Territory
xii Australian Capital Territory
xiii The Snowy Mountains Scheme

X Manufactured Gas

XI Industrial Process Heat



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The first hydro electric generating plant in Tasmania was installed in 1893 by the Mt. Bischoff Tin Mining Company at Waratah to supply lighting for the works area and the Mine Manager's residence. Over the next several years many small lighting plants were installed in mills and mines. The first publicly owned hydro electric plant began operation in 1895, when the Launceston Municipal Council commissioned their Duck Reachpower station. In 1893 Hobart became the first Australian city to have a complete electric tramway system. Its generators were driven by reciprocating steam engines. Co-ordinated development of the State's water resources for hydro electric power generation was begun in 1914, when a Hydro-Electric Department was formed and in 1930 the present Hydro-Electric Commission was established.

In the 71 years since the first two turbines, totalling 7.2 MW, began operation at Waddamana, the installed generating capacity has increased to 2170 MW. A unique feature is that, apart from 240 MW of oil-fired thermal plant, the system is entirely hydro. The thermal plant, at Bell Bay in the north of the State, was installed in the early 1970s to supplement the hydro system in periods of drought and/or low stored energy reserves but has had very little use.

The relatively low cost of energy produced from the Tasmanian hydro electric system has attracted industrial development in the State. This began in 1920, when the Electrolytic Zinc Company and Carbide and Electro Products Limited established industries at Risdon and Electrona. Major industrial load currently represents about 60 per cent of the State's use of electrical energy. As well as zinc, the industries include paper, aluminium smelting, cement, mining, wood chipping, iron ore, confectionery and pigments.

There are 57 hydro electric generating sets in service, ranging in size from 1.7 to 144 MW, installed in 25 power stations. Two additional hydro power schemes are under construction, with an installled capacity of 227 MW.

Features of the Commission's systems are:

  • The high annual load factor of about 75 per cent, reflecting the energy-intensive industry in the State.
  • Nearly all the power stations run unattended and are remotely controlled from five Area Control Centres. The HEC was one of the first authorities in Australia to use computer-based equipment for this purpose. Although its installed capacity is significantly less than the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Authority's, it generates substantially more energy because of the high load factor at which the plant operates.
  • The highest per capita electrical energy consumption in Australia.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Carbide and Electro Products Ltd; Electrolytic Zinc Company of Australia; Hydro Electric Commission of Tasmania; Launceston Municipal Council; Mount Bischoff Tin Mining Company

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© 1988 Print Edition pages 831 - 832, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher