Joyce calls for coal over Snowy 2.0

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Former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce has called for the $4.5 billion Snowy 2.0 hydro project to be scrapped in favour of building more coal-fired power stations.

Mr Joyce told The Australian he would prefer coal-fired power stations over the Snowy 2.0 hydro project, stating the cost of the project kept blowing out due to the geology being more difficult than was first thought, and an additional $2bn would have to be invested to upgrade transmission systems.

“When you take the initial estimate of all these costs, one thing which is certain is that it is miles away from what the final contracted figure will be,” Joyce told The Australian.

He said for the cost of the project a coal-station could be built, as well as a more modest hydro plant using the existing infrastructure.

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The government faces a final decision on whether to proceed with Snowy 2.0 in less than two months, and Joyce’s comments could cause more agitation in a Coalition conflicted over energy policy.

The Snowy 2.0 hydro project was heavily backed by former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull who purchased the shares of the scheme from Victorian and New South Wales governments for his government at $6bn.

Greens MP Adam Bandt has warned against the coal-led energy policy, telling reporters it will “kill people”, in reference to climate change.

Snowy 2.0 is a proposed expansion of the Snowy Mountains Scheme, which will supercharge its existing hydroelectric generation and large-scale storage capabilities.

The project would produce 2000MW of energy generation with 175 hours of large-scale storage.

According to The Northern Daily Leader, Joyce has also expressed an interest in looking at nuclear power as a broader solution to Australia’s energy policy.

Related article: Snowy 2.0 exploratory works EIS released

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