Aussie SMH Gives Up on the Snowy River Green Energy Pumped Hydro Scheme • Watts Up With That?

h/t Gerard Flood; You know your green energy scheme is in trouble, when even the climate action cheerleaders at the Sydney Morning Herald are trashing your energy storage project as a “White Elephant”.

Five years on, Snowy 2.0 emerges as a $10 billion white elephant

By Ted Woodley
March 15, 2022 — 5.00am

Five years ago on Tuesday, then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull announced, with great fanfare, the Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro project: “The Turnbull Government will start work on an electricity game-changer … This plan will increase the generation of the Snowy Hydro scheme by 50 per cent, adding 2000 megawatts of renewable energy to the National Electricity Market (NEM).”

Senate Estimates papers confirm the announcement was cobbled together in less than two weeks after the concept was floated by Snowy Hydro.

The nation-building vision was for a big battery to be added to the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme. It was to be completed in four years (that is, by last year) at a cost of $2 billion without any taxpayer subsidy, bring down electricity prices, generate renewable energy and incur minimal environmental impact on Kosciuszko National Park.

Inspiring stuff. But not one of these grand claims has turned out to be true. Worse, Australian taxpayers and NSW electricity consumers will be up for billions of dollars in subsidies and increased electricity costs, all while Kosciuszko is trashed. Let’s have a quick recap.

… Transmission tariffs in NSW will increase by more than 50 per cent if the NSW government allows Snowy Hydro to get its way, based on analysis in a Victoria Energy Policy Centre report.

Far from bringing electricity prices down, Snowy Hydro’s own modelling predicts that prices will rise because of Snowy 2.0.

As far as the claim that Snowy 2.0 will add 2000 megawatts of renewable energy to the National Electricity Market, Snowy 2.0 is not a conventional hydro station generating renewable energy. It is no different to any other battery, and as such it will be a net load on the NEM. For every 100 units of electricity purchased from the NEM to pump water uphill, only 75 units are returned when the water flows back down through the turbine generators. Not only is the electricity generated not renewable, Snowy 2.0 will be the most inefficient battery on the NEM, losing 25 per cent of energy cycled.

There are many cheaper, more efficient and far less environmentally destructive energy storage alternatives.

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Being the Sydney Morning Herald, they couldn’t help themselves, they had to spoil what was otherwise an excellent critique of the Snowy River boondoggle, by wrongly claiming “There are many cheaper, more efficient and far less environmentally destructive energy storage alternatives.

The sad truth is that there are no cheap, efficient energy storage solutions, which can be affordably scaled to the level which would be required to stabilise a 100% renewable energy powered grid, even in a place as blessed with wind and sunlight as Australia. The alternatives to pumped hydro energy storage either leak stored energy like a sieve, or suffer fatal flaws or excruciating capacity costs, or in most cases both.


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