Snowy 2: the policy of despair

Snowy Mark 2 as a pump storage is designed to use cheap off peak power to pump water uphill to a reservoir so that it can be used at a later stage when electricity prices are high.  It does not create any new energy – in fact it requires some 15 per cent of the available energy to be used up in the pumping process.

Starting out with a $1.5-2 billion estimated cost when announced by Mr Turnbull in March of last year, a heavily redacted feasibility study has now put the cost at $3.8 to $4.5 billion but this is likely to increase when a further iteration is published in April and excludes some considerable upgrade costs to the transmission system.  Snowy would be hoping consumers would fund these though electricity rules ostensibly require the generation facility to cover such costs.  Transmission costs are likely to be at least $3 billion and Judith Sloan’s speculative $10 billion cost may well prove conservative.

Unperturbed and donning his political salesman’s hat, Minister Josh Frydenberg endorsed the project but he would do that wouldn’t he?  He claims to favour Snowy 2 partly because, like all those wind farms, it creates “up to 5,000 jobs” presumably in construction.  I bet the 5000 jobs could be multiplied many times over if the crews did not use modern machinery! The Minister suggested the alternative fast start generation would entail $180 billion in Tesla power walls.

Snowy’s CEO says “As for claims that the economics don’t stack up — I refute them categorically. Snowy 2.0 can be funded off our balance sheet, while delivering a healthy internal rate of return of 8 per cent.”

Well, he would need to get that through his shareholders. It would be easy to do this with the spendthrift Commonwealth which owns 13 per cent but the NSW (58 per cent) and Victorian (29 per cent) are less likely to agree.  If the Commonwealth wished to proceed it would need to buy out the states but with an underlying profit after tax of $411 million and booming prices as a result of the destruction of coal power stations the cost would be well over $4 and might reach $8 billion.

And let us not forget, the whole value concept is purely a function of the regulatory regime created by governments in favouring and subsidising renewable energy which costs at least twice the price of coal and requires the kind of back up that the whole farrago about batteries and pumped storage has spawned.

The electricity industry suffers from having become the plaything of politicians and seeing its cheapest fuel, coal, having been successfully demonised by activists.  As one comment from an insider said on a recent post

Many in my organisation don’t believe in climate change but speaking out is risky. We now sit around and nod our heads to SSM, how awful it is that Donald Trump was elected and lament the terrible things the white person has done to aboriginal people. At one meeting a senior manager asked “aren’t we happy that no more coal fired power stations will be built in Australia?” We all agreed it was wonderful.

The fact is the government’s policies are leading to impairments for each of the energy companies’coal-fired assets. The middle-of-the-road shareholder might be annoyed by that. However companies are more concerned about loud minorities which turn up at their general meetings. There are increasing numbers of green board members.

Unhappily, there is more anguish before us with future prices now estimated by the Prime Minister to be over $110 per MWh, double those that would prevail if only the industry had been left alone, and a constant wind/solar-induced unreliability knife edge.  The propaganda continues unabated with a new chatbot launched today by the no-longer-taxpayer-financed “Climate Council” providing the electronic media with attractive and scary footage of reef distress heat waves and hurricanes.

Nothing is inevitable but common sense will hopefully emerge as the absurdity of the Paris Accord is understood and the damage to the economy becomes apparent alongside the demonstration effect of a booming US economy that has rejected carbon taxes.

Unpicking the distress regulatory meddling has caused will involve new generator investment, (probably by Chinese who are less susceptible to green pressure).  In the interim we will likely see a panicky government forbidding the 2022 closure of the NSW Liddell power station its policies have produced. Part of this will entail spending the $900 million in investment necessary to keep it operating at close to capacity.

It will however be some time before the industry again operates on the auto-pilot that in the decade to 2005 gave us the cheapest electricity in the world.

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57 Responses to Snowy 2: the policy of despair

  1. Tel

    Snowy Mark 2 as a pump storage is designed to use cheap off peak power to pump water uphill to a reservoir so that it can be used at a later stage when electricity prices are high. It does not create any new energy – in fact it requires some 15 per cent of the available energy to be used up in the pumping process.

    That is exactly right, therefore the bigger the swings in electricity prices, the more profitable the scheme becomes.

    And let us not forget, the whole value concept is purely a function of the regulatory regime created by governments in favouring and subsidising renewable energy which costs at least twice the price of coal and requires the kind of back up that the whole farrago about batteries and pumped storage has spawned.

    Also correct, strong baseload power would stabilize prices and reduce both on-peak and off-peak prices, but also reduce the swings (like things used to be). There would still be some swing, because demand is variable. However as it stands right now, baseload power is steadily being removed from the system.

    Ergo, the government is expecting much more electricity price volatility in the mid-term future, else they would not be building this. That would fit with existing trends.

  2. Craig Mc

    I hate to say it here, but government needs to buy these base-load stations, and run them with the speed-governors on. There’s just too much incentive for corruption in the system as it is.

  3. Rob MW

    It does not create any new energy – in fact it requires some 15 per cent of the available energy to be used up in the pumping process.

    It takes a genius to come with these sorts of decisions. The Gordon below Franklin would have been good about now, but the fucking geniuses fucked that idea.

  4. Up The Workers!

    As improbable as this project sounds, its only possible saving grace is that it is being built by the dregs of what used to be known as the ‘Liberal’ Party, so there is a remote chance that it might possibly have a ghosts’ hope of working.

    When the C.F.M.E.U./Crim’s Party Misgovernment of Mogadishu-by-the-Yarra decided to build the $750 MILLION taxpayer-funded so-called “North-South Pipeline, they built it – against all advice – with massive one-way pumps designed to pump water from a place that doesn’t have any (i.e. the Northern end of the pipeline), to a place that doesn’t NEED any (i.e. the Southern end of the pipeline).

    In best stereotypically incompetent A.L.P. style, the knuckle-headed peabrains built the thing arse-backwards, and consequently it hasn’t been used since day one – just like the A.L.P.’s totally unnecessary twenty three thousand million dollar rusting pile of nuts and bolts in a Wonthaggi paddock, known as the “Desalination Plant” which has either exploded or caught fire on every occasion they have tried to crank the useless embezzlement of taxpayers’ cash, into gear.

    If ANYTHING can be stuffed up, you can always rely on the A.L.P./Brown Movement to make a PROPER job of it.

    A.L.P. – Always Looting the Peasantry!

  5. Bruce of Newcastle

    it requires some 15 per cent of the available energy to be used up in the pumping process.

    Worse than that. Add the transmission losses from the distant solar and wind generation, which is probably at least another 10%. So not only is this stupid idea not generating any actual power but it is consuming a quarter of the power which was originally generated. Or more.

    Then thirdly it is displacing primary generation since, as I understand it, it is adding dams below the current Snowy hydro dams, plus pumps so the water can be pumped back up the hill. So some of the current Snowy hydro primary generation is conceivably being lost because what was a once through system will now be closed loop.

    And finally if people complain that actually the solar energy is being used at the consumers’ location (due to roof top PV) all that is doing is displacing the coal and gas energy to the pumped storage set up. Since the power stations are around Sydney the electricity has to go all the way to Thredbo and all the way back again when the Sun is no longer shining, because solar panels oddly don’t work in the dark. Which would be entirely unnecessary if the power stations around Sydney were allowed to sell their electricity to Sydney.

    This wretched boondoggle is so totally insane it makes me furious. One or two nuclear power stations would do it all without the hassle even if you believed in stupid global warming which isn’t actually happening. It’s madness!

  6. Leo G

    Ergo, the government is expecting much more electricity price volatility in the mid-term future, else they would not be building this. That would fit with existing trends.

    After this, therefore because of this?
    More likely, the government is creating much more electricity price volatility, and pump storage supports the associated strategy.

  7. Neil

    Given bad govt decisions this is as good as it gets. Its not a total waste like some. Something good may come out of it. Maybe if Snowy Hydro makes some money they may build a new dam. Hydro is one of the few renewables that works.

  8. Bruce of Newcastle

    Then there’s more crazy stuff like the fairly recent cancelling of the Tillegra Dam…followed by the even more recent announcement of the likely building of a desalination plant in Newcastle…which uses another how many megawatts? Who knows?

    The hypocrisy of these people is epic.

  9. EvilElvis

    Hydro works great as a renewable Neil when the replenishment comes from the sky and catchment, not from the fallacy of windmills and solar panels providing carefully timed power to pumping stations. It’s all bullshit and a little smoke and a little mirror. This project won’t even run without solid, reliable, fossil fueled, synchronous power generation.

    Where’s the silly fucking flowchart showing the retardation of renewable energy?? How fucking hard is it? And these spineless fucks in industry are no better than the pathetic politicians and green lobbyists that they bend over for! Grow a back bone and lead! People may follow and realise what a fuck up this is.

  10. Jimf

    So in 2018, with the world’s most plentiful uranium , we are reduced to pushing water (shit) uphill?

  11. Nerblnob

    Neil
    #2606750, posted on January 10, 2018 at 8:57 pm
    Given bad govt decisions this is as good as it gets. Its not a total waste like some. Something good may come out of it. Maybe if Snowy Hydro makes some money they may build a new dam. Hydro is one of the few renewables that works.

    Visited the Snowy Mountains Scheme Discovery Centre at Cooma a few weeks back.

    They actually have some engineers guiding one around the exhibits at times.
    Bunch of older techy-looking guys being shown the dams layout diorama , I eavesdropped.
    the young guide mentioned shelved plans for a new dam that would increase their capacity by up to 10%.
    “but not possible because National Park”

    One of the old guys said “but they could pass an act of parliament”

    Guide looked helpless.
    Everybody knows that won’t happen.
    But they’ll happily consider building a fucking off-peak perpetual motion machine instead.

  12. egg_

    More likely, the government is creating much more electricity price volatility, and pump storage supports the associated strategy.

    +1

    Especially if it is unregulated.

  13. cohenite

    It does not create any new energy – in fact it requires some 15 per cent of the available energy to be used up in the pumping process.

    Including losses during release the total loss is closer to 25%. Spend $10 get back $7.50. Only a moron like turdball could go ahead with this.

  14. NB

    Wow. I hardly know what an economic genius I am. My scheme for hand forging steel nails, hand carving each nut and bolt to perfection, hand carving each brick from solid living stone, even having a team of six to hand make each element of a pin is clearly the most advanced economics of the era. Not even Marx was perceptive enough to come up with this economic brilliance. Kiss unemployment goodbye. In my scheme each pin could take days to make, each brick a month. Just imagine how our standard of living will skyrocket.

  15. Neil

    Spend $10 get back $7.50. Only a moron like turdball could go ahead with this.

    Its not as bad as that. They pump it up hill when everybody is asleep and coal generated electricity is cheap. They flow it downhill during peak times when electricity is expensive. It needs more power than it generates but the concept works if pushing water uphill at night costs 5x less than what is charged when electricity is generated flowing water downhill during peak times

    As a waste of govt money goes it is better than most and Snowy Hydro may build more dams if they make some money

  16. DaveR

    The tragedy of this discussion on the merits or otherwise of the Snowy #2 is that in past years the bankruptcy of this ridiculous idea would have been exposed instantly and dismissed almost as quickly, with the perpetrator exposed as failing secondary school physics and economics.

    The problem Australia has is that the perpetrator of this fantasy is in fact the Prime Minister of the country, nominally leader of the Liberal and Conservative parties, but in all respects a person wedded to left Labor policies with all their meaningless symbolism.

    The further tragedy is that the Prime Minister’s fellow party members are all currently going along with this charlatanism, and no one is prepared to stand up to this fakir and cry out he has no clothes.

    Well not just yet anyway.

  17. nerblnob

    Snowy Hydro may build more dams if they make some money

    No they won’t.

    Shit scared of greens.

  18. Snoopy

    Including losses during release the total loss is closer to 25%. Spend $10 get back $7.50. Only a moron like turdball could go ahead with this.

    You’re forgetting that solar generated electricity is free during off-peak times at night.

  19. zyconoclast

    Snowy Hydro may build more dams if they make some money

    No they won’t.

    Shit scared of greens.

    They are the greens.

  20. nerblnob

    Greens count hydro when it suits them.
    But the Green party grew from opposition to hydro.

  21. OneWorldGovernment

    What it means is that Turnbull is a foul traitor.

  22. PoliticoNT

    Reminds me of a plan a couple of years ago by a CDU associate ‘professor’ (on the beg for dollars on ABC Radio) had to use solar powered pumps to send water uphill (out of the Ord) during the day, and then run it downhill at night to generate power – same idea, yes? His plan involved selling the power to the Indonesians through an undersea cable.

    It was pure Utopia stuff, even the announcer he was being interviewed by wasn’t buying. I couldn’t help myself and rang in to ask:

    1. Where would the water be stored before running downhill?
    2. Was he aware that the previous evening the Indonesians had announced they were building another three reactors to meet growing energy needs?
    3. Had he worked out the energy costs of the build and would the power generated ever offset it?
    4. Had he been to Indonesia, or know anyone there?

    Answers were: (1) Uhm, well, mmm, you have to understand this is just in the planning stages. (2) Uhm, well, mmm, no, I wasn’t. (3) Uhm, well, mmm, you have to understand this is just in the planning stages. (4) Ha ha ha. Well, I’ve been to Bali.

    At this stage of the interview the announcer started to put the boot in. (Cat’s need to appreciate ABC Darwin while imperfect is a much better reflection of your average Aussie than the crap broadcast in southern cities.) ‘So you don’t have anywhere to store the water, you haven’t worked out how much it will cost, and the Indonesians probably won’t need it. Why should we fund it?’

    The ‘professor’ waffled on for a little longer before declaring he had to leave for the airport to fly out for a renewable energy conference in Hong Kong. He’s probably working in Turnbull or Frydenberg’s office these days.

  23. herodotus

    There are so many culpable groups involved in the gradual destruction of our country, and others.
    Where to start?
    Activists who got the ball rolling in Tasmania and launched the Greens, media who have supported all manner of enviro-activism, politicians in some cases part of that activist/green group, in other cases along for the ride, and in the most regrettable instances simply too stupid to see the truth.
    As Shakespeare wrote in the last scene of Romeo & Juliet: all are punish’d.
    That’s all of us. To date there has been little to no punishment for those who have perpetrated the frauds or legislated the ruinous schemes.

  24. herodotus

    I forgot those in-the-tank professional climate change exponents, be they scientific or merely academic.

  25. min

    I wrote to Frydenberg last night suggesting that he read Moran, Sloan and Akerman to name a few who tell it like it is . My Father in law was Associate Commissioner at the beginning and other Family members a geophysicist and engineer on the Scheme. So I have been all over it.
    CEO has an agenda to keep workers in SMEC employed so he will support the project. Not all rock has been tested which I told Josh, and as there is a fault line running thru the tunnelling area this could send costs up
    All very well to be loyal but when you become a laughing stock like no gangs here, Andrews , spouting Turnbull’s policy and energy prices can only go up , voters will no be happy

  26. H B Bear

    This is not Potential Greatness.

  27. PoliticoNT

    I wrote to Frydenberg last night…

    Min

    The purest physical manifestation of pissing petrol into the wind and then setting it on fire is to write to a Minister, especially if your correspondence is well-informed and recommends something sensible. The ministerial corro at the link below will tide you over until you receive your formal reply.

    https://barbariapolitica.wordpress.com/2017/09/20/energy-policy-in-the-dock-as-boasting-rights-at-the-stupid-table-views-revealed-in-correspondence/

  28. John Constantine

    The Chinese will simply put all the water of the Snowy down the generators and then use it for irrigation.

    That is the way it is done in China, so bankrupt Australia can look at client states like bankrupt zimbabwe for the template to be imposed by the owners of our politicians.

  29. min

    Politico NT I have better access he would have read it .

  30. manalive

    “This new project will have the potential to ensure that there will be the necessary energy supply, renewable energy supply dare I say, to those on the east coasts at the times of peak demand,” Mr Frydenberg said …(ABCNews 16 Mar 2017).

    The drought of the early 2000s by 2007 left Snowy hydro “gasping” (SMH) and close to shutting down (Reuters).
    Snowy 2 will “ensure” nothing.

  31. Up the Workers!

    In best stereotypically incompetent A.L.P. style, the knuckle-headed peabrains built the thing arse-backwards, and consequently it hasn’t been used since day one – just like the A.L.P.’s totally unnecessary twenty three thousand million dollar rusting pile of nuts and bolts in a Wonthaggi paddock, known as the “Desalination Plant” which has either exploded or caught fire on every occasion they have tried to crank the useless embezzlement of taxpayers’ cash, into gear.

    I don’t have the video editing skills to do it, but would love to see a ten minute video of “The Ten Biggest and Costliest Government Stuffups” since Whitlam.
    Maybe something for Riccardos team?

  32. Here is a list with ideas to help some bright spark –
    [1] AUSSAT $700mill losses & debts rolled over into Pay TV 1990’s,
    [2] $6Bn Collins Class Submarines 1990’s – duds we are still stuck with,
    [3] Electricity privatisations started in 1990’s – looking at our ballooning power prices would we have been better off keeping the old State Electricity Commissions? Despite the feather-bedded unions.
    [4] MRET scheme making 3 worse and harming our electricity grid into the bargain – ongoing multi $Bn’s as taxpayers fund wind & solar that can never power our 24/7 grid,
    [5] Defence purchases eg MRH-90 helicopters $4.2Bn,
    [6] Serially delayed and poorly performing F-35 fighters $24Bn looming, Deliberate destruction of F-111 bombers instead of mothballing – $2Bn in lost capability.
    [7] Eastern States Desalination plants ~$20Bn,
    [8] Rudd Labor watering down border laws $11.6 billion over five years, Rudd MkI Pink Batts $2.8Bn 2009-2010.
    [9] Decades of anti-damism – after not building the Franklin Dam in the 80’s,
    [10] Antifracking hysteria causing moratoriums or bans on gas exploration in NSW, Vic and NT in face of rising local prices, partly papered over by PM talking to Gas Co’s.
    [11] Building the Education Revolution $16.2Bn – includes many unwanted school halls – More money for Education = worse results by international measures,
    [12] Adelaide Hospital third most expensive building in the world $2.1Bn,
    [13] Inability to control rogue unions like CFMEU which affects 12 and all other construction est +$10Bn,
    [14] NBN a future $100Bn mediocre performer?
    [15] Buying 12 French submarines before even a prototype is built future $50Bn and endangering our security,
    [16] The GST carve up which rewards the basket case States SA & Tas.
    [17] Various States and GreenLabor anti-nuclear policies.
    [18] Climate change policies – have a effect in 4, 7, 10, multi-$Bn’s.
    [19] Perth Children’s Hospital lead contamination in water pipes ongoing never seems to be solved.
    [20] Snowy 2.0 profoundly inefficient pumped hydro proposed to be driven mostly by doubling Eastern States wind power – what could go wrong – a mish-mash of wooly thinking long on hope. Looks like $10Bn plus looming very poor investment.

  33. Gengis

    Well said Alan,
    However you to seem to be unable to spell NUCLEAR!

  34. David Bidstrup

    I posted a reply on this topic when Judith Sloan talked about it last year so presume it is still available to view.
    The following is in response to the announcement of the planning approval for the solar-thermal plant that will “replace” the now demolished Port Augusta power station.
    Living in the madhouse.
    On 10 January “The Advertiser” reported that the solar-thermal plant to replace the now demolished coal plant at Port Augusta has been given development approval. The proponents still need to organise finance and get their hands on the federal government $100 million “concessional equity loan” otherwise known as free money from us.

    I thought I would do some numbers to see whether the project is worth the hype, even though it is probably inevitable.

    The promotional blurb for the “Aurora” project states a generating capacity of 150 MW and output of 500 GWh per year. If “Aurora” was a conventional generator its theoretical annual output would be 1,314 GWh so the capacity factor for the project is 38%. This is not much better than wind farms which average capacity factors of 30-35%.

    As a comparison, the now demolished Port Augusta power station had a capacity of 520MW and a capacity factor of around 90% so could produce about 4,100 GWh annually. This is around 8 times more than the solar-thermal project will provide.

    The solar-thermal plant is quoted at $650 million, with $100 million coming directly from our pockets. The construction time is 2 ½ years from whenever they get the money finalised.

    Over a proposed life span of 40 years it will produce 20,000 GWh – about 5 years’ worth of Port Augusta output – and will have a capital cost per MWh produced of $32.50 plus financing and operating costs.

    There is much hype about the “storage” capacity and how this will make the plant “dispatchable”, (a term the famous “pet shop parrot” now uses whenever electricity is being discussed). Looking at data from plants already in existence in Nevada, the solar-thermal plants suffer the same issue as ordinary solar PV in that their output drops off in winter months. Plots show capacity factors dropping to 10% so output is around one quarter of summer output. There might not be sufficient “excess” power to store in winter months.

    The coal fired station provided employment for 500 or so people in the Leigh Creek mine and Port Augusta power station and many others who made their livings supporting the power station or providing services for the families of these people. Leigh Creek is now a ghost town and Port Augusta has businesses closed and people out of work. They are also facing pollution from the overenthusiastic explosive demolition of the power station and the dust from the drying flyash lagoon.

    The solar-thermal project is touted as employing 650 people over 2 ½ years for construction – most of whom will come from places other than Port Augusta – and an ongoing workforce of 50 people to operate it. Not much of a deal for those who now see no future.

    Towards the end of the article Mr Kevin Smith, CEO of “Solar Reserve” is quoted as saying it is “a remarkable story of the transition of Port Augusta from coal to renewable energy – which won a competitive tender against fossil fuel”. I would imagine Alinta, owners of the Port Augusta power station, were not asked to “tender”, (if there ever was a tender process), because it used “dirty coal”. How can you “win” a tender against something that is excluded from the tender for “ideological” reasons?

    Alinta were going broke because they had to get off the grid every time the wind blew but be ready to pick up the slack when it did not. This meant they continued to burn coal and employ people but their revenue base was severely reduced.
    They offered a deal to keep the plant going for $8 million per year but this was turned down by a government that has a fanatical fixation about “climate change” and “emissions reductions”. As a consequence the plant was blown up and sent to China as scrap metal.

    4,100,000 MWh for $8 million is $1.95 per MWh, slightly less than a capital cost of $32.50 plus $80 for the RET subsidy, (it is “renewable” after all), and probably $20 for operations and maintenance giving $132.50 per MWh, without financing costs. This is 68 times the incremental cost for keeping Port Augusta open and produces 5 years’ worth of “equivalent” power over a 40 year life span.

    I find it very hard to get excited by deals such as this and I suspect if others had access to the numbers they might get out on the streets with pitchforks and chase the perpetrators of this fiasco down the street.

    It gets worse. When the penny finally dropped that our power system was imperilled the same government did deals for a battery, which has limited use and which we do not know the price of and some diesel fired gas turbines that use 80,000 litres of fuel per hour. The total cost, excluding the solar thermal plant is said to be $550 million of the SA taxpayers’ dollars. It will be added to the state credit card which we are ultimately responsible for.

    Not only do the federal government think it is a good idea, Mr Xenophon, who is on a quest to “save” us, thinks so too and “struck a deal” when he was a senator in order to get the “concessional equity loan”. This does not bode well for us in regard to sane energy policy going forwards but the same can be said for the Liberals who seem clueless.

    Meanwhile the good people of Port Augusta and Leigh Creek comb through the garbage cans trying to survive, wondering why their lives have been destroyed for absolutely no reason by a government that is supposed to do the right thing by its citizens. The rest of us deal with eye-watering power bills and the ever present threat of blackouts. Businesses shed staff or close up shop because their power bills increase past the affordable limit.

    The pity of it is that all Australian politicians have become captive to the fantasy of the “greenhouse effect” even though it is just a theory, has not been proved and has been refuted by many scientists we never hear about. There is strong motivation for vested interests in “renewables” to hype their product while dining off subsidies that all consumers pay for in their power bills and no one dares stick their head up above the trenches point out that it is all pain and no gain.

    It is insane. We are living in the madhouse.

  35. H B Bear

    [19] Perth Children’s Hospital lead contamination in water pipes ongoing never seems to be solved.

    Wazz – Perth Childrens Hospital is simply a result of awarding the contract to John Holland, a mediocre building company that has been passed around like Gillard at a Liars National Conference and is now in Chinese hands. Add to that the so-called self certification of imported building materials that sees asbestos sheeting, water fittings and flammable cladding from China walk straight in. A much better example of government incompetence is the Perth Arena with its massive budget blow-outs and may even have sent Uncle Len Buckeridge to his grave.

  36. manalive

    The Department of Environment and Energy is a crafty Turnbull creation.
    Presumably the staff come mainly from Greg Hunt’s Department of the Environment which superseded the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
    The Department mission statement:
    The Department designs and implements Australian Government policy and programs to protect and conserve the environment, water and heritage, promote climate action, and provide adequate, reliable and affordable energy.
    The Minister has failed on both reliability and affordability (‘adequate’ is an entirely subjective quality like ‘appropriate’) but he is merely running errands for the department where environment (aka Climate Change™) will trump reliable and affordable energy every time.

  37. RobK

    Baseload with pumped hydro is a different scheme to renewables with pumped hydro. They are poles apart in capital cost and energy efficiency.
    Essentially, baseload can meet maximum demand including a safety factor. Pumped hydro can provide peak shaving or load shifting on an opportunistic diurnal cycle. The energy storage is relatively small compared to the energy supplied by the grid over all. The power output can be moderately high as it is cycling daily.
    The function of pumped hydro as renewables approach 100% is one of gathering random surplus energy and being able to meet maximum demand on its own for extended periods (viz a week or two, depending on the level of security desired). In order to replenish storage the renewables must be able to supply at least twice average weekly/monthly consumption so it can recharge whilst also feeding immediate consumption.
    So whilst pumped hydro can, under favourable settings, provide an economic smoothing buffer to baseload, to do the same for renewables you need at least twice the generating capacity (or 6 to 10 times the nameplate capacity) of renewables and an energy storage capacity of the order of weeks. This storage system has to have a rated output power enough to carry the entire demand, peaks and all for many days (minus any remaining baseload.). The fact that gas/liquid is being a stop gap is only making the surge to more expensive energy a little more incremental, it wont change the final out come.

  38. Aethelred

    Just out curiosity how much energy could this thing store, assuming it’s windy and the (lower) dam actually has water in it?

  39. Bon

    Alan your article neatly nails the absurdities that underpin the current CO2/renewables scam in general, and the Snowy 2 white elephant in particular.
    On the 15% energy losses involved in pushing water up hill I suspect the losses are much worse than that. Firstly the energy used in pumping and regeneration both represent additional losses above and beyond the energy losses already incurred in the initial generation, so any energy expended to return that initial energy onto the system (the grid) represents additional losses. Hence the 15% pumping becomes more like 30% (15% x 2) when you add the losses incurred in running the water downhill and through the turbines once again in the opposite direction.
    And it doesn’t end there, the fact that that the mythical “low cost” excess midnight wind energy used for pumping would have to be aggregated from often remote regions, with tenuous grid interconnection means that the additional in/out electrical journey also represents significant additional transmission energy losses, probably of the order of another 10%. So even with the presently un-costed additional necessary transmission upgrade works, the total energy recovery of such a scheme is unlikely to be better than 60%.
    But I guess it salves the Green conscience of Captain Waffle?

  40. RobK

    In summary;
    Baseload Pumped storage functions like a capacitor in an electric circuit whereas for renewables pumped storage has to be the battery and prime power generator.

  41. RobK

    Some instances of pumped storage can be amazingly efficient…70-80% for the wet bit, then line losses. Generally these schemes dont involve 30 odd km of tunnel though. I understand that several previous feasiblity studies canned the plan, so only a high energy price could sustain the scheme.

  42. Snowy 2.0 storage capacity and proposed charging is set out in [9]
    http://www.warwickhughes.com/blog/?p=5494

  43. RobK

    Ultimately, when sufficient amounts of redundandant renewables have been installed to satisfy energy security the level of installed capital will be massive. There will be periods of high energy weather when all the storage is full and the produced energy will not be able to find a market….a random glut followed by storage anxiety shortage. Wellcome to the expensive overcapitalized world of renewables….demand management is comming your way.

  44. John Constantine

    Deindustrialisation is all you need to make ruinables electricity work.

    When everybody is employed by the State doing services, we will just have a holiday when the wind doesn’t blow.

  45. herodotus

    Green jobs will be keeping an eye on one another to make sure we/they aren’t doing anything non-green. That’s about all that’ll be left.
    Until the greens die of natural or other causes.

  46. Helen

    $10B could build 10,000 km of road – from scratch – somewhere.

  47. Helen;

    $10B could build 10,000 km of road – from scratch – somewhere.

    The Outback Highway?

  48. Jock

    Just as a matter of interest what is the expected capital cost of a new brown coal generator. Say 2000MW. And with modern efficiencies re ash scrubbing. It is a while since I helped purchase LYA so just wondering.

    In the meantime steel, labour and every other input has greatly increased in price.

  49. classical_hero

    Jimf, it’s worse than that. We have abundant coal that will last a long time. Yet in Australia we’re running out of energy. That’s what governments do, create a problem that never existed before.

  50. André M

    Up the Workers! says:

    it hasn’t been used since day one

    That’s just fake news.
    It was used for at least 7 months.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North%E2%80%93South_Pipeline#2010

  51. When I see large sums for capital projects, I like to see what is being purchased for that money. If Snowy 2 is a record-breaking pump storage system then $5-$10bn might be quite good value for money.
    I found an article in the Sydney Morning Herald on 22 Oct 17 which states that the proposed scheme can generate 250 MW for up to 8 hours. That is a total of 2000 megawatt hours.
    Compare that to Dinorwig pump storage scheme in North Wales. This was completed in 1984, can generate 1650 MW for over 5 hours, producing up to 9100 megawatt hours. Despite being a massive project, that went over budget – (with 12 million tonnes of rock removed, 16 kilometres of tunnels excavated. and a central hall 180 metres long , 51 metres high and 23 metres wide) it still cost £600m. In today’s money that would be around $8 billion. For the same money in real terms, Dinowig gives 7 times the maximum power and reaches full power in 16 seconds as against 30 seconds in Snowy 2. It is, however, only 75% efficient against a promised 85% at Snowy 2
    Dinorwig is a wonderful engineering achievement. I have twice been coach tours from Llanberis, that take you inside “Electric Mountain”. But it is not used to its full potential. It was built when Britain got most of its electricity from coal and nuclear. The need for a replacement to a coal-fired “spinning reserve” was made redundant by the switch to gas-fired power stations. Although used daily, the last time it was used in full when there was a major fire at a coal-fired power station, and a couple of nuclear power stations were down for maintenance. Dinorwig, like Snowy 2, is likely unsuited to future with a large proportion of renewables as the lakes are not big enough for the long periods when there is no wind. Of course, as a backup for renewables, it adds to the cost. Making up for when the wind don’t blow and the sun don’t shine (a daily occurrence in most of the world) means that for renewables with low capacity utilization then you need a number of times the theoretical capacity to meet requirements. The costs would be also a number of times per kwh than providing all the electricity from fossil fuels.

    Whatever you think of the politics or economics of pumped storage, Dinorwig is a magnificent engineering achievement.
    https://www.fhc.co.uk/en/power-stations/dinorwig-power-station/

  52. Aethelred

    I suppose detail calculations have been made as to the net CO2 released as a result of drilling Km of tunnels, production of concrete, steel and building expanded transmission network and this added to the lifetime CO2 released during building a maintenance of wind mills.

    I wonder when the break even point will be?

  53. JohnA

    Snowy’s CEO says “As for claims that the economics don’t stack up — I refute them categorically. Snowy 2.0 can be funded off our balance sheet, while delivering a healthy internal rate of return of 8 per cent.”

    Sounds as if someone has learned a little MS-Excel. But have they learned to never, ever, ever trust a spreadsheet? Probably not.

  54. JohnA

    André M #2607699, posted on January 12, 2018, at 1:58 am

    Up the Workers! says:

    it hasn’t been used since day one

    That’s just fake news.
    It was used for at least 7 months.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North%E2%80%93South_Pipeline#2010

    André, I understand your point and I know that Wikipedia is usually a quick source of factual backup data but that article is somewhat deficient.

    It describes Sugarloaf Reservoir as a “major storage reservoir” which it most certainly isn’t. It is the smallest storage reservoir in the Melbourne system and, in fact, a treatment reservoir.

    It was built in the Hal Croxford era to demonstrate the futility of a) opening up catchment areas to general use and b) of necessity, treating catchment water.

    Indeed, apropos of this discussion, it demonstrates that governmental (political) madness has been long evident in the PDR of Victoria-stan.

  55. Bob in Castlemaine

    JohnA
    #2609300, posted on January 14, 2018 at 8:24 am
    The government has managed to keep NBN off its “balance sheet” and ain’t that a shinning example of the government knows what’s best for you?
    The truth is of course that Snowy 2.0 would never be built other than for ship loads of your money, Captain Waffle’s free monopoly money.

  56. Geriatric Mayfly

    The Snowy scheme is a magnificent piece of engineering, of that there is no doubt. In relation to energy output the phrase ‘ white elephant’ has been bandied about many times. The rainfall simply isn’t there to capture and it is highly unreliable. Instead of being a constant power house for the south eastern seaboard, generators are flicked on and off to meet peak demand, and water levels are watched though the eyes of actuaries who measure in millimetres. Murray One has 10 turbines. I am sure if they all ran at once for more than a week Lake Eucumbene would be drained dry. Now another white elephant is mooted to share the catchment with the original.

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