Malcolm Turnbull announces Snowy Mountains 2.0

Jindabyne Dam as part of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric scheme in New South Wales.

The Turnbull Government has announced a “game-changing” expansion of the Snowy Hydro electric scheme to help ease the country’s energy woes.

The $2 billion project will increase the generation of the Snowy Hydro scheme by 50 per cent, adding 2000MW of renewable energy to the National Electricity Market – enough to power 500,000 thousand homes.

“In one hour, it could produce 20 times the 100Mwh expected from the battery proposed by the South Australian Government, but would deliver it constantly for almost a week,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in a statement today.

“The unprecedented expansion will help make renewables reliable, filling in holes caused by intermittent supply and generator outages.

“It will enable greater energy efficiency and help stabilise electricity supply into the future.

“This will ultimately mean cheaper power prices and more money in the pockets of Australians.”

The announcement comes less than 24 hours after the PM met with gas company executives to deal with a looming gas shortage, and just days after the South Australian government released their $550m energy plan, which includes the construction of a new gas-fired station and battery storage facility.

“For too long policymakers have put ideology and politics ahead of engineering and economics,” Mr Turnbull said.

“Successive governments at all levels have failed to put in place the necessary storage to ensure reliable power supply to homes and businesses.

“We are making energy storage infrastructure a critical priority to ensure better integration of wind and solar into the energy market and more efficient use of conventional power.

“By supercharging the Snowy Hydro precinct, we can ensure affordable and reliable electricity for Australian households and businesses.”

The original Snowy Hydro scheme was completed in 1974 and remains Australia’s largest-ever engineering project ever undertaken.

It is made up of a series of dams, pipelines, turbines, pumping and power stations that remain Australia’s largest-ever engineering project ever undertaking.

The government, through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), will examine several sites, which could support large-scale pumped hydroelectric energy storage in the precinct.

These sites would involve new tunnels and power stations, connecting existing storages.

“Every Australian should be confident that they can turn the lights on when they need them,” Mr Turnbull said.

“That is why an ‘all of the above’ approach – including hydro, solar, coal and gas – is critical to future energy supplies.

“We will always put sensible, considered energy decisions ahead of reckless targets that cannot guarantee power supply to Australians.

“Snowy Hydro already provides back-up energy to New South Wales and Victoria and could extend to South Australia when expanded.

“This exciting plan would lead to job creation and economic security for thousands in the construction and engineering sectors.”

Snowy Hydro managing director and CEO Paul Broad said the proposal has the potential to deliver an innovative clean-energy solution to the critical security and supply issues in the NEM, helping to take the pressure off power prices for consumers and businesses, while reducing emissions.

“From our earliest days, Snowy Hydro has been moving water to support the irrigators in the food bowl of Australia and generating electricity during peak demands to keep the lights on in the NEM,” Mr Broad said.

“The creators of the Scheme foresaw a time when its capabilities may need to be expanded and, as a result, there are very real options in-built in the Scheme’s design to extract more value to the community.

“At a time when the security and stability of the NEM, energy affordability and emissions reduction are under scrutiny, there is an opportunity to leverage the iconic Snowy Scheme to once again deliver an energy solution for the country.

A feasibility study is expected to be completed before the end of the year, and construction can commence soon after.