The Future is Green (and Clean)

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-By Robert Hoshowsky

When it comes to leading the way in renewable energy, Hydro Tasmania is, literally, about 100 years ahead of its time. Since the creation of its first hydropower development almost a century ago, Hydro Tasmania has earned a global reputation as Australia’s largest producer and leading supplier of renewable energy. In addition to being the largest manager of water, Hydro Tasmania uses technologically advanced systems to harness natural, clean, and environmentally friendly energy which is then sold on the national grid.

Truly a believer in the power of natural thinking, Hydro Tasmania is a key player in the future of energy generation. A respected organisation with a rich history, Hydro Tasmania has a vision of an energy sustainable future, one that reflects commitment to balance and transparency, united with sound business decisions and economic, environmental, and social considerations today and in the decades to come.

“This is a business that is competing in a highly competitive national electricity market, but it is doing so in a sustainable and ethical manner,” says Roy Adair. Appointed Chief Executive Officer of Hydro Tasmania in June of 2010, the charismatic and erudite Adair has a lengthy and impressive history with some of the world’s best-known energy producers. “Most of my career has been associated with different renewables for some time,” says Mr Adair, a self-described “serial chief executive” whose extensive work history includes serving as CE at Senoko Power, Singapore’s largest electricity generator and retailer; senior management positions with PowerGen; CE at Yallourn Energy; Chief Operating Officer of Pacific Hydro; founding Chairman of the National Generators Forum; and a former Director of the Electricity Supply Association of Australia.

“I have run coal-fired power stations, gas-powered fire stations, and also hydro capability,” says Mr Adair, who is also currently Chairman of Momentum Energy Pty Ltd, and serves as a Director of the Centre for Energy and Greenhouse Technologies Pty Ltd. With a formidable amount of knowledge and experience gained over the years working in the business of energy, Mr Adair remains especially pleased with the vision of Hydro Tasmania.

“We have an integrated electricity business,” he says. “We are currently Australia’s largest clean energy producer, producing around 45 per cent of the renewable energy generation in Australia. We’re very proud of that position, and of the fact that we operate in a sustainable manner. We are delivering a very high level of performance to our shareholders, the people of Tasmania, but we are doing so in a manner that is building a solid foundation for the future.”

Vision, Values and Accountability

For clean energy sources to be sustainable, Hydro Tasmania believes the organisation must not only be accountable to shareholders, but adhere to a system of values, including health and safety, outstanding service, honesty and integrity, working together and respecting diversity, and remaining positive and determined to successfully create a sustainable future. To ensure sustainability, the organisation applies Sustainability Principles to its business activities, decision-making process, and performance reporting, which are externally benchmarked against best practice, with the policy and program being reviewed every three years; in fact, Hydro Tasmania’s sustainability program and reporting were acknowledged with three awards in 2009 – 2010.

Owned by the Government of Tasmania, Hydro Tasmania’s assets are valued at approximately $4.8 billion. To maximise long-term, sustainable returns to the State of Tasmania, the organisation’s board maintains high standards of corporate governance. In addition to establishing Hydro Tasmania’s strategic direction, the seven directors of the board formulate and monitor corporate policy, set and monitor risk management policies and procedures, and oversee management of Hydro Tasmania’s financial affairs on behalf of the State of Tasmania.

Included among Hydro Tasmania’s assets are King Island’s Huxley Hill – owned and operated by the organisation – and a wind farm and two diesel power stations located on the Bass Strait islands, which remain solid examples of the power that comes from combining innovative renewable technologies. In addition the group is also active in energy-related environmental products (Renewable Energy Certificates) in the Australian market.

“A Renewable Energy Certificate is a certification that production of that megawatt hour is from a renewable energy source, and that is related to the obligation that we should have a certain target of generation met from renewable energy,” says Mr Adair. “Those certificates are therefore tradable in the marketplace, and are required to be part of the retail scene.”

Research and Innovation

In the diverse field of renewable energy, it is crucial to keep pace with the latest technological developments and seek sustainable innovations that benefit shareholders and the environment. Hydro Tasmania has a number of strong research links with universities and research institutions, and is involved in postgraduate projects, collaborative research, undergraduate and honours sponsorship, and various partnerships and alliances. Believing that innovation is achieved through research and development, Hydro Tasmania’s strategic priorities include developing new renewable energy technologies, product innovation for customers, and solving operational and resource problems.

At the present time, the organisation is involved in a number of dynamic projects that are not only geared towards sustainable energy without harmful emissions, but maintain a proper context with respect for the environment. These include solar and ocean power, the development of cost-effective products to measure wind resource, increasing the performance of water conveyance and generating assets, and the use of hydrogen as an energy storage medium in remote areas. Additionally, Hydro Tasmania cares about effects on nature, and is studying the biology and ecology of threatened fish in Great Lake and Arthurs Lake in Tasmania, and actively investigating ways to prevent eels from passing through turbines.

Wind Power

As one of the best-known forms of clean, emission-free energy generation, wind power is becoming increasingly popular around the world. For the past six years the joint venture Roaring 40s has developed and operated wind farms in Australia. From July 2011, the joint venture owners Hydro Tasmania and energy giant China Light & Power (CLP) Group will pursue different wind opportunities. Hydro Tasmania will take ownership of the operating wind farms at Studland Bay and Bluff Point in Tasmania’s north west together with a share of development opportunities, including Musselroe in Tasmania’s north east. Hydro Tasmania is still committed to the development of wind energy in Australia.

“We have to look at the future energy needs of the national electricity market in Australia,” says Mr Adair, citing wind development. “Let’s not forget that, at the moment, 80 per cent of Australia’s electricity generation comes from coal-fired generation.”

The organisation believes that these wind farms are not just an emission-free alternative to coal and other fossil fuels, but truly are the future of energy solutions. Possessing the required skills and knowledge to manage the entire project life cycle – from concept to ongoing maintenance – Hydro Tasmania wants to not only change the way people use energy, but to impart knowledge about the energy we use, where it comes from, and how choices like wind farms will benefit and develop our future energy capabilities.

Hydro Tasmania’s CEO Roy Adair believes that the world will see much more use of wind power in the next decade, “in order to meet the renewable energy target of 20 per cent by 2020. Now, that’s a significant hike in the figure, bearing in mind that renewable energy at the moment counts for just over eight per cent. We’re looking for a significant increase. The majority of that, in the period up until 2020, will come from wind, because wind constitutes the most economic, competitively-priced source of renewable energy, and this will be driven by the price of renewable energy certificates.”

Although coal-fired energy is less expensive at the present time than wind and hydro power, the prices of the latter will decrease as the technology gains acceptance. “The issue, of course, is that it is high in carbon intensity,” says Mr Adair of coal-fired plants. Freely conceding that they are in competition with coal, Mr Adair emphasises that the future of energy generation is about much more than money, with factors like global warming and pollution to consider.

“A brown coal-fired generator will produce 1.5 tonnes of CO2 per megawatt hour, and Hydro Tasmania, of course, produces zero emissions. Now at the moment, the market does not recognise the quality of our generation, and therefore we receive effectively the same price as the coal-fired generators.”

Entura and Momentum

Always with an eye on the future of sustainable energy, Hydro Tasmania acquired Momentum, the Victorian specialist electricity retailer specialising in serving the needs of business and industry customers, and offering exceptional service and competitive pricing. Through its consulting arm, Entura – which offers power engineering, renewable energy, water and environmental solutions – Hydro Tasmania is able to share its expertise in energy and water with businesses and governments across the Asia-Pacific region. As one of Australia’s most respected energy and water consultants, Entura is a 300-person strong entity, successfully assisting governments, developers, and international companies in over 20 countries worldwide with their planning, design, construction, operation, and energy and water maintenance projects. Offering more than just advice, Entura has helped with identifying prime locations for hydropower development in Malaysia, and maximising energy output from wind farms located in India.

The Future Lies in the Past

The story of Hydro Tasmania is far from over. In 2014, the organisation will celebrate its 100th year. In all that time, it has forged a stellar reputation worldwide for its high degree of professionalism in the generation of hydro electric power and the utilisation of water resources to produce a sustainable electric supply for Tasmania. Solar, wind and water power generation are no longer distant dreams, but are fast becoming viable means of creating energy for the present – who knows what the future will bring. In the words of Hydro Tasmania’s CEO Roy Adair: “We are proud of the fact that we are Australia’s largest clean energy producer, and it is our mission that we will be so for a long time to come.”

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

December 16, 2018, 6:44 AM AEDT