Is Snowy Hydro’s expansion another infrastructure white elephant?

By Leith van Onselen

The Morrison Government yesterday approved a $1.4 billion investment into Snowy Hydro 2.0 –  a pet project of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull:

Early works on the pumped hydro-electricity project will start within a week after Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed almost $1.4 billion in equity into making the project a reality…

The total cost of the project is expected to be between $3.8 billion and $4.5 billion according to a feasibility study. Taxpayers will chip in $1.38 billion, with Snowy Hydro to fund the rest through its own internal cashflow and debt financing.

It’s expected the first electricity generated from the scheme will be available by October or November 2024…

Pumped hydro works by using cheap electricity — usually at night — to pump water back up a hill and into the dam, where it is stored until energy demands start to peak during the day.

More power storage is a good idea. But whether this project is a good way to achieve it remains debateable. The ABC produced an excellent analysis of the pros and cons back in March 2017, which is well worth a read.

The cost of this project is currently estimated between $3.8 billion and $4.5 billion, but will likely grow. Additionally, by the time the project comes on-stream, battery power is likely to be very cheap:


The question is: can Snowy 2.0 deliver cheaper energy than the private sector doing the various forms of storage that are looming as highly competitive? Highly doubtful.

Moreover, for a government that insists it wants to see technological neutrality, the new Snowy project is a giant bet on the opposite.

Another key issue here is due process. The Snowy 2.0 project started in a moment of crisis as the gas cartel and inclement weather triggered blackout in SA. After that, the Turnbull Government ran a bizarre Enron-style campaign of fear and intimidation that blamed renewables when the problem was always (and still is) the gas price. And we know where Turnbull got the idea:

The Snowy Hydro expansion was a brain fart of Malcolm Turnbull – announced for political reasons without first conducting an assessment nor consulting with his state stakeholders.

And now it’s arrived, for better or worse.

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Unconventional Economist
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  1. The fact that the article linked to stated this…

    “Pumped hydro works by using cheap electricity — usually at night — to pump water back up a hill and into the dam, where it is stored until energy demands start to peak during the day.”

    Shows how behind the curve our media and pollies are. Daytime power in states like SA is now becoming negative on the wholesale market at times. People writing things like this are still thinking about cheap coal production at night which is 5 years ago now.

    • I watch the spot price at least 2-3 times a day, when there is a heat wave more. The price in South Australia constantly is the highest of all the Eastern Seaboard states, Victoria ranks second. The AEMO is constantly issuing proposed market intervention notices for South Australia. Queensland and NSW still remain the lowest.

      • Two things (i) the above figures are an utter fiction, yet MB contributors pursue them! The real truth is that fact is not convenient, is it???!!! Stop this BS, please. Lies do not help the cause. (ii) Do not oppose everything. The fact MB has never advocated any infrastructure build. A weakness in world-view IMHO. Hydro is massively cost effective, renewable and peak power.

      • Who said? Is that the entire project – is it reported in full?

        Abuse only embarrasses yourself! As does your ignorance about this project!

      • Unless they have a cunning plan to make the rain received massively increase, there isn’t any additional water at the snowy’s for more total power, so will produce no additional renewable energy.

  2. I noticed at the press conference the PM was spruiking the cost as between $3.8 to $4.5 billion. The successful consortium Salini Impregilo-Clough-Voith quoted $4.8 billion, and that’s before design growth begins. The technical specifications are so gold plated, almost as if they expected a blank cheque to build the worlds best by far, Could go on and on.

    • The project can still be canned, one of the first contracts is for exploratory works – to tunnel down to where the main turbine and transformer hall is located to see what is down there. That is unless they have combined the whole project as one contract. I felt there was a lot of geology guesswork down during the tender, judging some raised voices from the geotech engineers about not having information during one meeting I attended. I don’t know where they will find the workers to build it, they’ll have to pay more than what the contractors working in Sydney and Melbourne on tunnel projects are paying which will drive up the costs, unless they want to import the labour from overseas. There was a proposal to fly the workers to Cooma, But I hear they were are thinking of busing them from Sydney and Melbourne to do 2 weeks on 1 week off, 7 day full roster. The two week on one week off roster complicates things with overseas labour, I suppose we’ll start seeing them crammed into illegal inner city apartment hotels for their one week roster off. I expect to see a lot of Malaysians trades and professionals coming down for the mechanical work. One of the things that became clear to me was the clients engineer (SMEC-now Malaysian owned) hydro engineering experience on the original project is all buried at Cooma cemetery or sitting in nursing homes. I think they were only awarded the work for sentimental reasons.

  3. Did Utopia ever say anything about mass immigration?

    Would not surprise me if Utopia totally ignored the biggest issue of all.

  4. Snowy Hydro 2.0 ready by 2024?

    That is perfect timing.

    We should have expanded the population by close to another 500,000 households by then.

    Will Scott Morrison explain that Snowy Hydro 2.0 will barely keep up with his Big Business Big Australia high speed immigration program.

    Perhaps the ACTU and Bill Shorten can explain for him as they also support a very big Australia as fast as possible.

    Australian families will be so happy that the government is allowing them the pleasure of paying to build the infrastructure required by the Big Business Big Australia.

    • with it’s 350GWh storage and 2GW capacity Snovy 2 will be able to power 1/5 of NSW population (1.5m people) for more than a week without any sunshine or wind during that time anywhere in the state
      for a regular cycle (Snovy 2 being used at night) it will be able to power 2.5 million every night

      • Are you saying the Minister is underselling the project?

        “..Energy Minister Angus Taylor says the government is confident it will be getting a good return on its investment and will release economic modelling as the project proceeds.
        “We’re very confident of the economic case,” he told ABC Radio National on Tuesday.
        When completed, the new project will increase generation capacity by 2000 megawatts and provide 175 hours of energy storage — enough to power 500,000 homes during peak times.

        I think I might need smelling salts !

        A pollie underpromising.

      • assuming 3 persons per household he is right (my numbers were in persons)

        the important part is that storage will mostly work during off peak load when solar is not generating but we need less energy

    • Pfh

      “We should have expanded the population by close to another 500,000 households by then.”

      Perhaps you inadvertently left out a 2 in front of 500,000, unless you are referring only to Sydney’s population growth?

      • jkambah,

        I was trying to be conservative about the impact that population growth rate will have on the ‘impact’ of the project.

        Whatever the benefits of Snowy 2.0 will be one wonders why we bother when we seem intent on pumping up the population as fast as possible.

  5. Personal pet hate- economic hitmen taking over unelected, selling australian assets and fnoff before anyone can pin them. fx those blokes. unaustralian I reckon.

    • What pm do you think the people have ever elected?
      You get to vote for team A or B at best and they pick whoever they want. That’s how our system works.

  6. The political equation is simple: the Libs can’t do renewables or batteries, because Labor and Greenies. But they need to do something. Hence, this. The plus points are that it is relatively close to Canberra and the stupid Press Gallery, its in a marginal seat, and its a great “jobs for boys” kind of project. It also, in their minds, connects them to Menzies.

    Its also a wedge and a time bomb for the Labor and the future Labor government.

    Very craven, and typically LNP.

  7. Tassie TomMEMBER

    I DO think that Snowy 2.0 will be a white elephant.

    I don’t think that electrochemical storage (batteries) will ever be sufficient for grid-scale storage, but there may be a nanotechnology breakthrough that makes them much cheaper and easier to manufacture, in which case I might be wrong.

    There are other forms of energy storage, and (declaration conflict of interest) I’ve put my money where my mouth is and participated in the IPO of 1414 Degrees last year . They are developing energy storage in the form of heat (molten silicon – has a very high latent energy of crystallisation). They are experimenting on how to regenerate electricity from this heat but avoiding steam – they’ve used “Stirling engines” and they’ve used simple compressed air.

    The theoretical cycle efficiency of this is only around 50%, but Snowy 2.0 is only calculated to have a cycle efficiency of around 67% if used at its claimed 2000MW peak.

    This means that Snowy 2.0 will actually be a very large energy consumer – it does not create a joule of energy – it consumes energy. All it does is convert non-dispatchable energy (including coal-fired energy because coal doesn’t know how to turn itself off when it’s not needed) into dispatchable energy, and at a cost of one joule for every two joules regenerated. So there needs to be a large daily variation in the wholesale energy price for Snowy 2.0’s running costs to break even, let alone pay for its capital costs.

    The critical factor is that transmission lines are expensive. In many cases they are more expensive than the actual generation or storage infrastructure. And transmission lines from generators of variable energy (wind and solar) as well as to storage are going to be horribly under-utilised. For example, a transmission line to northern Victoria might be absolutely maxed out by a solar farm and so no other solar farms can fit their power onto this line, but at night it’s doing nothing.

    Distributed storage at the site of generation will allow the power station to triple or quadruple in size without upgrading the transmission lines, or similarly storage at the site of heavy consumption (next to an aluminium smelter) could store energy in reserve for times of peak grid demand, so that this user doesn’t need to be supplied during the peak.

    Energy will be lost, sure, but wind and solar are so dirt cheap these days that it would often be cheaper to just build more and cop the losses than to try to capture every last drop of energy.

    So in summary, my money’s (literally) on distributed storage and less transmission interconnectivity, as opposed to large-scale centralised storage and more transmission interconnectivity.

    • so it’s not important if we lose power on transmission because it’s cheap solar/wind but somehow efficiency of snowy 2 is a problem. Also most of the time efficiency of Snowy 2 is going to be around 80% not much different than batteries.
      On the other side Snowy 2 can not only provide energy storage but also support the grid with it’s mechanical inertia removing the need for separate facilities for that.
      There is a lot of transmission infrastructure around Snowy 2 that was built for original Snowy and some of it was gold plated at the time so there is some spare capacity. Upgrading existing lines is not nearly as expensive as building new.

      People concerned with global warming should be happy because snowy will add 350GWh of storage enabling additional penetration of solar onto the SE grid. This size battery storage would cost at present at least around $20 billion and we would need to wait decades for Li battery to get as cheap (and they will never get so cheap because there are physical limitations for chemical storage). Life time cost difference is even bigger – Snowy 2 will last 100 years with not so much maintenance while batteries would need complete replacement several times in meanwhile.

      the only bad thing about Snowy 2 is that it’s being built in Australia so at the end it will take twice as much money and two times more time than it should because mates have to make big bucks. Even paying mates big bucks is not as much as issue as projects lasting forever.

      • Hole in yr story
        if there is no water, the thing is useless
        there is nearly not enough water there at the moment for it to work
        any guarantees on the water
        I didnt think so
        this is a hoax

      • Oh dear. Have you read the feasibility study and the TNSP plan for the transmission line upgrade? That alone is likely to cost 2~3 billion, easy.

        The Transmission company (private) and Snowy Hydro are lobbying the regulator to bypass the investment test which is in place to ensure projects provide a market benefit. They would not need to do this if the project had merits.

      • Do you have any peer reviewed figures supporting this 80% returned power for Snowy2.0?
        A lot of the official figures play games with captured run-off and seem to completely ignore evaporation and dam leakage. It’s hard to pump water with a significant head and actually achieve an 80% returned power. This requires 95% efficiency for the turbines and 95% efficiency for the Motor/Generators oh yeah and zero losses in the piping.
        BTW I’ve done my own MicroHydro so trust me I understand the losses.

      • Fisho, wrt to losses, my understanding is that the tunnels are to have a diameter of about 13m, give or take, so losses will not be large at all – most of it is just overcoming head/height

      • if the storage cycle is relatively short (e.g. frequent day-night cycle to support solar) efficiency can be quite high because water losses are low (no evaporation and leakage), also on a large scale (big turbines) losses due to drag are low because pipes are very large and large turbines are very efficient (large >500MW turbines can have efficiency of over 95%)
        I’m not sure what size they are going to use but units will definitely not going to be smaller than 200MW
        @fisho – efficiency drops quickly with the size so small turbines <1M can be as bad as 50% if head is low

        @ww – pump hydro doesn't need much ongoing water supply because water losses are not that great evaporation (Snowy lakes are deep) and water leak should not be a problem based on the geology and rock type there. Evaporation can be further reduced by floating covers if needed.

        cost numbers for transmission also includes cost of temporary supply for boring machines and other equipment which is quite expensive. At the price of $2b to connect 350GWh (2GW) storage doesn’t look too expensive

      • The tunnel borers that are currently Swiss cheesing Sydney are said to be the machines they’ll use, minus some rendering inside that….

        The lakes are deep when they’re full & that’s seasonal as well as cyclical. Not very deep right now!

      • DX
        farmers along the murray, and in the MIA, have become used to using oodles of water for irrigaton
        the recent water shortages in the snowy dams have led to massive water cutbacks.
        No for me, this farmers were wasting much more water than they used, open channels and flood irrigation etc
        but in any event, as their water ran out, that mob hit the roof, politically as well.
        to keep then happy all the water from the snowy would be required in a dry period
        and they have had a few runs of 1 in a 100 dry events down there.
        Just recently coke wrote off the value of SPC to zero, indicating they have no faith in the irrigators to supply stone fruit.
        so unless the rainfall magically recovers, or the Murray farmers cur back heavily on water use
        the joint down there is dry.
        in my opinion you can blame chopping down all the trees in the region across to SA
        and sheep chewing all the grass to limit transpiration.
        Now if this thing was pumping ocean water, not so many problems.

      • Existing Snowy Hydro is a combination of power plants and pumped storage – only few lakes can be refilled
        pumped storage lakes are full or empty whenever needed, they don’t require river to fill them

      • @doctorX, just about everything you stated in your original reply to me is wrong:

        – “not important if we lose power on transmission” – who said anything about that? Learn the differences between energy losses and capacity factor.
        – “most of the time efficiency of Snowy 2 will be around 80” – WRONG – read the feasibility study.
        – “support the grid with its mechanical inertia” – Ha ha ha – the “mechanical inertia” argument again. Firstly the only people that actually need mechanical inertia are coal-fired power stations, secondly you can solve this for stuff-all money with a few flywheels dotted around.
        – “spare transmission capacity” – again, read the feasibility study.
        – “size of battery storage” – I wasn’t talking about electrochemical storage and specifically stated so you d**khead.

        Are you a fossil fuel industry employed troll (probably not because you’re not making a very convincing argument) or just part of the loyal Lib-Nat-ONP’s tinfoil hat brigade?

      • @ Tassie Tom
        yeah someone arguing for large storage that will enable large penetration of solar is definitely working for coal industry

        BTW. you know nothing about how grid works and how much spinning reserve is important also getting 2GW in large units of mechanical inertia from Snowy 2 will mean 2GW of coal can be decommissioned without affecting grid operation at all and probably 2GW more of coal can be reduced without significant impact. Mechanical inertia is not needed by large coal plants at all – they provide inertia so less inertia in the system more they are needed.

        Only not building storage of this size works well for Coal industry, with thi storage they are screwed.
        Despite hating him, I have to say that Snowy 2 was Turnbull’s Trojan horse for coal loving Liberals – it just appears good for them but in reality undermines coal and enables solar to flourish

    • When is a Govt infrastructure project NOT a white elephant. Always assume it is …. until proven otherwise.

  8. Put in isolation, this is likely to be a white elephant. However, we need to consider the high population growth and how people live. Given we are building poorly designed multi-storey apartments blocks, we are ensuring that the peak demand is higher and a greater difference to base demand. Just look at Victoria’s recent load shedding.
    Is this value for money? Possibly not, but we do need to move quickly away from coal and gas peaking if we are serious about climate change.

    • good that you mention this. we are building poor energy efficiency houses as well, and we don’t upgrade energy efficiency of the existing homes either
      see my post below about energy efficiency:

      • Completely agree. I don’t get why it is not being discussed and we instead talk about supply solutions.

  9. I heard about a new energy storage mechanism this week, stacked concrete. Instead of pumped hydro like this Snowy thingo, you crane a concrete load to the top of a tall building during low demand, then slowly release it to generate power during higher demand.

    This sounds fantastic to me! With all the high-rise going up we can stick them all over Melbourne and Sydney. It requires less transmission distance. We already have about a million cranes about to be spare, and to reduce CO2 we don’t even need new concrete, we can just use the bits of concrete that fall off the existing high-rise.

  10. What we are missing is energy efficiency that could almost meet our Paris targets without building any new renewable generator.
    by enforcing some of European energy efficiency standards we could save almost half the energy while maintaining standard of living.
    Despite large 80% of population living in nice climate where cooling and heating are not needed for most of the year (or ever at all) we spend much more energy than countries where climate is extremely hot or cold (or both) for large parts of a year.
    per capita we are using twice as much as Spain, Italy or Greece and 50% more than Germany, Switzerland or even Hong Kong countries where climate is bad and where industrial usage is much higher.

    replacing windows on a typical Sydney homes should be cheap and affordable for millionaires living inside? right?

      • It’s not just the homes themselves that are inefficient the appliances (especially AC and Water heating) have appallingly real use efficiency.
        Take the case of an elderly couple lucky is they shower twice a week that has a 300l off-peak water heater. (this is incredibly common) and costs something like 15Kwh of power to heat and typically looses about 5Kwh of that heat per day just due to storage heater thermal losses. So for 5Kwh worth of hot water actually used the couple will be buying 35kwh of power per week, it’s stupidity that the Electricity retailers would rather not address.
        btw it only gets more absurd if the elderly couple installs Solar PV. In a real case that I looked at a new off-peak water heater was installed but no changes were made or recommended (by anyone involved) to shift the hot water heating over to their own Solar generation. Instead they were selling PV electricity to the grid for a pittance and buying back nighttime (presumably coal generated electricity) at close to 20c/kwh..
        From this perspective the complete efficiency of Aussie houses is atrocious.
        I was recently in Germany visiting some friends and had the opportunity to talk with a local plumber he was very aware of the problems I’m talking about and had some interesting solutions. When I talked with my local Aussie Plumber he somewhat Indignantly informed me that I didn’t know what I was talking about, electric off-peak water heating was fantastic (oh and roof top PV was extremely dangerous) and he absolutely wouldn’t hear that maybe there were better solutions.

  11. Batteries are an interesting problem especially if their cycle efficiency (percentage of Energy In vs Energy out) is not a critical parameter. What many don’t realize is that Pumped Hydro is also not a very cycle efficient energy storage mechanism (typical returns are sub 60% ), so if we can tolerate sub 60% energy returns than what are the alternatives?
    Some of the newer Flow batteries like Iron-Chloride Redox are dirt cheap to build and could easily store sufficient power to support a regular household but the kicker is that you only get out about half as much power as you put in. (that and the rather annoying fact that they only function for a half a dozen cycles at the moment)
    So is it worth it to store power and recover say just 30% of the stored energy?
    If you already have an off grid solar PV setup than you know the answer is most definitely YES. Just the other day I was talking with an engineer that develops storage system monitors and he told me something that I already suspected. In almost all battery backed off grid setups the batteries are fully charged by 11am. All the off grid PV power generated after 11am must be either consumed as and when it is produced or simply wasted. So on a typical day there will be at least 3 hours of PV capacity (equals 15kwh for a typical 5Kw PV system) that is just wasted.
    Storage solutions like Micro-hydro and Methane production with excess electricity start to make a lot of sense. The returned energy is between 20% and 40% but it’s better than just wasting the power.

    • What do you mean by Micro-Hydro?

      Relatively small tanks at the top and bottom of buildings or hills?

      That sounds like a good idea. Could be located close to the power source and end user.

      • MicroHydro is just as the name suggests relatively small storage ponds with some height difference between them.
        This could be incorporated into tall buildings as a swimming pool sized pool at the top of the building and a similar or even larger pool in the basement. If the water pumped up during the day is cool water than it can be used to cool the building during the day. If the water that is returned in the evening is warm than you can extract this thermal energy to warm the building while the Potential energy of the water is transformed to generate electricity.
        There’s a lot of interest in systems like this for creating energy efficient high rise buildings.
        BTW the stored water is also available for Fire extinguishing purposes so it serves two purposes.
        At a farm level it’s as simple as having two ponds with a substantial height difference (the greater the better) and you pump water between the ponds.
        Typical electrical energy returns for microHydro are less than 40% so it’s hard to justify if you’re burning coal to pump the water but somewhat easy to justify if you can imagine a system in the not to distant future where mid day electricity is free.

        Forgot to mention, In many cases the storage ponds that people are looking at are existing underground basins and things like underground lime stone cave complexes so the high pond can even be just a simple swimming pool at ground level.

      • Fisho,

        The name suggests MicroHydro not MicroPumpedHydro

        But I like the idea of what you are describing because of the potential for distributing power storage using relatively simple equipment. Two tanks/dams/reservoirs and a connection.

        A reasonably high coastal cliff should work as then you only need a reservoir on the top of the cliff.

        Plus no worries about finding water in a dry continent like Australia.

    • Large Pumped Hydro is quite efficient energy storage if storage cycle is low (e.g. day-night cycle) – it can be over 80% efficient because water loss (via evaporation) is low during short periods of time.
      Also efficiency of pumped hydro goes down quickly as the size and head of pumped hydro is reduced so micro pumped storage with low heads efficiency can be as low as 50%

      • Thanks DrX. I’ll look into it but I’m skeptical about the real world full cycle efficiency.
        It’s also worth mentioning that you are measuring power cycle efficiency at the Hydro plant. There’s no allowance for the 5% transmission losses to get from the Wind farm to the Hydro and a further 5% Transmission loss from the Snowy to Syd/Melb.
        Transmission losses for more remote parts of NSW can be as high as 15% of the electricity generated, so there can be a 30% cycle loss involved in storing electricity generated at say Glen Innes Wind farm and returning this power to regional NSW.
        The capital cost of constructing new transmission lines is also a sort of efficiency problem when amortized across the electricity provided. So 50% efficient storage local to a large renewables project is likely to be more appealing than 80% efficient Snowy Mountains storage (70% efficient seen from the Wind/PV farm perspective) especially when it comes to providing Dispatcahble power and the dollar premium associated with Dispatchable power and related ancillary services.
        What I’m saying is don’t be surprised if this massive project is underutilized.

      • There are a many new solar farms going on in Riverina region so Snowy 2 will be geographically as well as electrically on the way to load at Sydney and Canberra – not really increasing existing loses (that energy is already passing near by Snowy)
        (BTW loses on transmission network are not that large – around 2%). Total transmission and distribution loses in Australia are around 5%

  12. – I highly doubt it that battery will be as cheap as people predict. It’s better to have a Plan B called “Hydro””.

    • batteries will never be as cheap unless some significant fundamental breakthrough is achieved (non-chemical storage)

      Australia is a perfect candidate for large scale sea water storage (many high cliffs near the ocean), or underwater storage in deep waters near the coast (a concrete or seal spheres where water is pumped out to store the energy) these can be located almost anywhere near the SE coast so transmission costs can be minimal.

  13. “Snowy Hydro’s expansion another infrastructure white elephant”…that’s a no brainer!. Just about every infrastructure program Australia has undertaken turns to shit…100+ year to build the Ghan railway line, Collins class subs, NBN, NDIS just to name a few off the top of my head. If Australian’s want top quality bang for buck infrastructure, get someone else to construct it.

  14. Currently Blowering dam looks much more like a river with 27% capacity & you would be able to see the old Adaminaby township as Eucumbene is a comparative puddle too. ’tis the season for lows, but it’s the lowest I’ve seen them for quite some years……. Sustainability going forward?

    I’ve missed any mention of the extra wind turbines being put somewhere to help it stack up? Maybe that rumour isn’t true & they’re going to rely on old power generation to pump it back up?

    They aren’t releasing the economic modelling till after it’s started…..Why not? And they haven’t even worked out the transmission wires yet…..(rumoured to be nearly as costly as the main job on it’s own) & will be a contention in some quarters due to scarification of ecosystems as it’s being built.

    Surely you wouldn’t start such a large a project without nailing as many corners down as you possibly could? – But it’s a Go…..!

  15. Snowy appear to be justifying the projects on market benefits rather than commercial benefits to itself. Any new source of supply will generate reduced costs and benefits to the broader market but no one in their right mind would invest on the basis of offering charity to everyone else.

    Other market participants may have better projects in the form of batteries, diesels, gas turbines etc but will be reluctant to invest when governments plainly pursue non economic projects in direct competition. With the second inter-connector to Tasmania waiting in the wings for a government handout a shroud of fear will descend on genuine project developers.

    • “Any new source of supply will generate reduced costs and benefits to the broader market but no one in their right mind would invest on the basis of offering charity to everyone else.”
      This one sentence describes perfectly the complete lunacy of a privatised electricity generation network.

  16. Whether the project will incur the cost of the + billion dollar transmission upgrades necessary to monetise the new capacity is unclear.

    Even if batteries and other forms of embedded storage/generation are more expensive they are able to provide benefits not just to the generation market but also to the transmission and distribution sectors by way of deferring or eliminating the requirement for additional capex. i.e. they can offset general demand growth or changes such as more air conditioning that result in peakier loadshapes. Embedded storage / generation also reduces transmission and distribution losses and can done in smaller increments so we as a country don’t take too big a speculation in any one solution.

  17. One of the big risks to Snowy 2.0 is electric car batteries. These can be in the form of the cars themselves reversing power back into the grid at times of need or old batteries that are no longer up to scratch for transport purposes but are still robust enough for less demanding utility requirements. More or less they can be packed into some crappy old warehouse and live out their lives providing grid support.

    I hope Snowy 2.0 backers (i.e us taxpayers) have taken this all into account.

    • The only thing initially taken into account was Malcolm’s desperation to Klingon, & now Scomo’s trying to ride the coattails of someone he stabbed in the back – for very similar reasons! You’ve only got to look at Pynes Extortionate Submarine contract to keep his seat to see why this is a go for Scotty……& why our money doesn’t matter when it’s their jobs at stake.

    • If you’ve ever tried to buy a wrecked Tesla in Australia you’d know just how highly prized the batteries are.
      Complete junk cars still sell for well over $20K. For a Battery that’s 70Kwh (lets assume capacity is say 60Kwh) that’s still over 30c/kwh (although I understand that the traction motors and voltage regulator are also highly prized items) so maybe 20c/KwH for the battery, assuming it’s not damaged which is a big assumption for a wrecked car.
      BTW you need to build your own Charge / Discharge / Monitor and Battery Safety (Fire alert/suppression) systems before you have the equivalent of a Powerwall.
      Tesla is also trying to block the trade in these items through various commercial / legal mechanisms, so it’s unclear how long these items will remain available.

    • cars will help push to 100% renewable but we’ll have to wait quite a bit to get there – in meanwhile we need storage to get more solar in (350GWh is not that large compared to needed storage once we go 100% renewable).

      Even when all cars become electric large centralised storage will have it space and purpose to level off variations in car provided storage (Sunday night after long weekend will have significantly less car storage available than Tuesday night). Also I said before, Snowy will have mechanical inertia to keep grid going creating less need for grid support short time storage

      Snowy 2 is good idea because it will help on a short to medium run (hopefully they’ll finish it within a decade) and also for grid support (small inverter storage doesn’t help grid work at all). That large expansive battery in SA is almost exclusively only used to support grid when most of generation is inverter type (wind and solar)

      BTW. wrecked car batteries will be fine to be used as storage but otherwise it’s going to be a battery that will determine lifetime of a car (unless it’s Tesla so it breaks down after just few years).