Work will soon begin on the plan for the Snowy Mountain Scheme 2.0, a project that aims to increase the generation of the Snowy Hydro scheme by 50 per cent, adding 2000 megawatts of renewable energy to the National Electricity Market.
Once completed, the project could produce 20 times the 100Mwh expected from the battery proposed by the South Australian Government in one hour, but would deliver it constantly for almost a week (or 350,000Mwh over seven days).
The unprecedented expansion will help make renewables reliable, filling in holes caused by intermittent supply and generator outages.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said, “For too long policymakers have put ideology and politics ahead of engineering and economics.
“Successive governments at all levels have failed to put in place the necessary storage to ensure reliable power supply to homes and businesses.
“The energy storage infrastructure should be 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, affordable and reliable electricity for Australian households and businesses can be ensured.”
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.
“Snowy Hydro was originally built with the capability to be expanded and the Turnbull Government intends on maximizing that capacity.
“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.
“The Government believes sensible, considered energy decisions should be put 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 plan would lead to job creation and economic security for thousands in the construction and engineering sectors,” said Mr Turnbull.
It will have no impact on the scheme’s ability to supply water to irrigators in New South Wales, South Australia and Queensland.
A feasibility study is expected to be completed before the end of 2017, and construction can commence soon after.