Snowy Hydro 2.0 a sign of panicked policy, but has some merit

Thursday, March 16, 2017 | Jeremy Buckingham

The Greens NSW have labelled the Snowy Hydro 2.0 plan as panicked policy on the run from a federal government without a coherent plan to transition the energy system to renewable energy, and questioned whether modern battery storage would be a faster, more flexible and potentially more cost-effective solution.

Greens NSW energy spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham said: "The failure of the Coalition to accept and manage the inevitable transition of our energy system to renewable energy is leading to an incoherent and panicked policy response.

"Investigating the concept of expanding pumped storage at Snowy Hydro has some merit, but it should be compared with modern battery storage technology which may be faster to implement, more flexible and possibly provide better value, depending on project costs and battery prices.

"The reality is this project would initially see coal generated electricity used to pump water uphill, so should not necessarily be classed as renewable energy.  In the long-term, a variety of energy storage options, including pumped hydro powered by renewable energy is important to the grid. 

"This idea has generated a lot of media coverage, but will not generate any electricity in the next few years to assist with the immediate issue of peak demand.

"The Greens NSW would oppose money being directed away from building genuine new renewable energy generation to fund this storage project.

"If the project involved any augmentation of the dam area, extra water use, or damage to the natural environment, then it will face significant opposition from the community, including the Greens.

"It is good that the government now recognises that public investment in energy infrastructure is important.  The government should fund a rapid transition to renewable energy to protect the climate."