David Bidstrup: Snowy 2.0: The madness continues

I first looked at the proposed “Snowy 2.0” project in August 2017, just after it was announced as yet another “game changer”. “The Australian”, (2 March 2018), reports it“will provide additional generation capacity 0f 2,000 MW”, which is a bit misleading because (a): we are interested in energy, that is how many MWh it can produce and (b): it is not a “generator”; it is a nett user of electricity.

In August 2017 the project output was stated as 350,000 MWh over one week.

Using a reasonable 80% efficiency for the scheme, (basic physics tells us here are no “free lunches”), 440,000 MWh of energy is needed to pump enough water to achieve the 350,000 MWh output from one 7 day period. This power will come from “the grid”. The hope is that it will be from “large scale renewables”.

Currently Australia’s installed capacity of wind power – the only large scale renewable resource – is 4,400 MW.  On average, they operate at 30 to 35% of installed capacity so averaged over a year the actual capacity is 1,540 MW, (4,400X0.35).

To pump the water needed for the 350,000 MWh output needs the total Australian capacity of wind power for 12 days. That is 12 days without them putting any energy into the grid for ordinary consumers. At midday on 28 August 2017, (when I wrote the initial article), the combined wind power resources of Australia were producing at 150 MW. At that output the pumping time to “fill” the system is 122 days.

The scheme can then deliver 350,000 MWh over 7 days, (50,000 MWh per day). At midday on 28 August 2017 the total grid load was 24,000 MW so in 2 hours the grid consumed 48,000 MWh or 96% of a “Snowy 2.0” day.

Considering the best case scenario, the time to “fill” is 12 days and the time to “empty” is 7 days giving a “fill/empty” cycle of 19 days. That is 19 cycles per year.

Each cycle requires 437,000 MWh to fill and yields 350,000 MWh when that water is passed through the turbines. The annual power deficit is 1,653,000 MWh. The simplistic view is that this electricity will be sourced when renewable production exceeds demand. That sounds good until you consider the sporadic operation of wind farms. To think that there will be some “spare” electricity when it is needed is courageous at best and stupid at worst.

Of course the renewable energy used for pumping will attract the RET subsidy and the electricity produced will do so as well.

Assuming that the unit cost of power in is equal to the unit cost of power out, and using a plug figure of $150 per MWh as a power cost the operating cost per year is $247,950,000.00 which equals $37.00 per MWh.

The project was originally “costed” at $2 billion but has now become $4 billion. The federal government will now outlay a further $6 billion to buy back the NSW and Victorian interests in “Snowy 1.0” giving a total of $10 billion all of which will be funded one way or the other by power consumers.

Using some simplistic loan repayments at 5% simple per year, the interest on the $10 billion is $500,000,000.00 per year. This gives an annual “financing” cost of $75.00 per MWh so the combined annual costs of operating and financing are around $112.00 per MWh.

Snowy 2.0 is not a “new generator”; it is a nett user of power and it will cost around $112.00 per MWh to produce electricity. This will be passed on to consumers in the time honoured fashion and it will garner RET subsidies along the way. It relies on intermittent power sources to fill the dam and history shows that there are many times when the performance of wind generators is abysmal to say the least. Pumped hydro was originally designed to make use of spare capacity from large, reliable and dispatchable thermal generators when demand was low. I wonder why our “leaders” do not understand that they just look stupid promoting these ridiculous ideas.

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45 Responses to David Bidstrup: Snowy 2.0: The madness continues

  1. Roger.

    Another one for the “We are governed by idiots” file.

    Unhappily for us, this idiocy has consequences in the real world, as we are going to find out not to far down the track.

    Meanwhile, QLD, on whose coal generators southern states rely, is powering ahead to 50% renewables in 13 years. That means that, barring state intervention, coal fired power stations will close before their time and power prices will continue to rise whilst supply becomes unreliable.

    Meanwhile atill, India powers on with a multi-pronged energy policy that includes coal, nuclear, gas, hydro and token renewables.

    The average villager in the Punjab will soon have a cheaper and more reliable electricity supply than the average Australian suburbanite, if he doesn’t already, that is. A future brought to you by successive political dullards, beginning with John Howard.

  2. Roger.

    not too far, should be.

  3. stackja

    MSM bought the AGW scam. Politicians got rushed. MSM/ALP/Greens are the problem.

  4. H B Bear

    Relax, the incoming Peanut Head* government will kill this stone dead. And give the $10bn to the unions.

    * may not be actual Peanut Head. Subject to change.

  5. Natural Instinct

    Using a reasonable 80% efficiency for the scheme

    Do the maths…and follow the electricity
    The UP
    Look at motor efficiency = 95/98
    Look at pump efficiency curve = 75/85
    The DOWN
    Look at turbine efficiency curve = 75/85
    Look at generator efficiency = 95/98
    TRANSMISSION losses because the Snowy is a long way awya from consumption = 98%
    Overall system efficiency = 55 to 68%

    But still much better than batteries!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Bruce of Newcastle

    Also since the dam is an existing one and it is using an existing generator house it is almost certainly reducing primary generation. Assuming available water, and the dam is linked in to Eucumbene as I understand, it currently should be operating much of the time. So when it swaps over to ‘giant battery’ mode it will probably no longer be able to generate using normal stored rainwater.

    Since all that capacity is already renewable it suggests Snowy 2.0 is replacing renewable energy with renewable energy (minus 20%). And at the price of many billions of dollars. Crazy.

  7. herodotus

    Snowy 2 looks like (a) a bit of window dressing and (b) at best a recycling effort about as meaningful as our local council’s designated bins for such stuff.

  8. Boambee John

    I wonder why our “leaders” do not understand that they just look stupid promoting these ridiculous ideas.

    None of their courtiers, in the parties, the public “service”, academia, or the media are willing to tell Emperor Malturd that he is naked.

  9. Politicians got rushed. MSM/ALP/Greens are the problem.

    Gee, now I am confused. Wasn’t John Howard the head of a LIBERAL government when he started all this nonsense in 2007? Wasn’t Tony Abbott the head of a LIBERAL government when he drove the final nail into the coffin of affordable, reliable electricity in September 2015?

  10. amortiser

    These clowns can’t have it both ways. At present, renewables are first cab off the rank in the provision of power to the grid. This proposal suggests that renewables are to be used to charge the Snowy battery and not provide power to the grid.

    What is the point of it all? We don’t need this enormous battery being recharged if power is provided by coal which it will if the renewables are required to pump the water up the hill.

    Peak stupid is rapidly approaching!!

  11. mem

    Since all that capacity is already renewable it suggests Snowy 2.0 is replacing renewable energy with renewable energy (minus 20%). And at the price of many billions of dollars. Crazy.

    Bruce has nailed it. It is truly a boondoggle!

  12. Dr Fred Lenin

    Shame shame ! As one maggot senator would say . You are denying our beloved leader the glory of inventing perpetual motion, free power for all !all . Those true figures that expose this fraud and not one Elite with the guts to expose it,we have gone down the plug hole with the idiots that infest politics

  13. John Constantine

    When redfilth gillard said if we obeyed her immigration strategy it would take twenty years to fill the MCG.

    We didn’t understand that the future would hold bans on driving to the MCG, bans on parking at the MCG and individual body searches by musselman musclemen before entering the MCG, because a full MCG is such a high risk target for our imported and unhappy strength.

    We didn’t listen to the future as she saw it.

    When their turnfailure debacle coalition tells us Snowy 2.0 will run Australia’s industry, they are letting us know they will never waver from exporting all our industry to the transnational looting cartel as war reparations for colonialism.

    When they say Snowy 2.0 will supply households, they mean rationing, the internet of things and smart robot meters will limit demand to the ruinables supply.

    Listen to their black hearts, not their lying lips.

  14. Entropy

    All this shuffling of water around will also incur losses of water as well power input losses. It isn’t a sealed system.
    And in a multi year drought, and let’s face it, Australian droughts are all mutliyear or it is just a dry spell, replenishment will be an issue, unless waffles thinks he can reduce environmental flows.

  15. Good summary of Snowy 2.
    Where is all this excess RE coming from?
    SA and VIC will need all of their wind energy just to keep the lights on.
    During January and February Australia’s wind and solar generation averaged less than 1,200MW against an average demand of some 24,000MW or less than FIVE percent.
    IMO the excess RE to required to power Snowy 2 does not exist either now or in the foreseeable future.

  16. RobK

    The essence of your post is quite right.
    Some comments:
    The line losses, in and out will be significant because the feed-in and feed-out is very distributed.
    Basically, the peak shaving capacity is 2GW when the grid currently peaks around low 30s GW. If this is using an existing turbine then its not new capacity but might extend the range of hydro a bit (a lot of dough, not much show).
    I doubt the RET will get paid twice but we will pay for it anyway. The scheme will, once bought, be a rationale to justify much more wind and solar schemes because the storage is already paid for(never mind on going costs).
    The only real value is the 2GW of power for peak shaving. If there is no wind or sun it is 1/15th of peak load. For a scheme like this to be replacing baseload it would have to be able to have the power to carry nearly all the peakload(say30GW) and keep up average daily load for a week or two. Then you’d need renewables in the order of 6-10 times the current baseload capacity.
    It is all very expensive and unreliable.

  17. Myrddin Seren

    The scheme will, once bought, be a rationale to justify much more wind and solar schemes

    Ka-ching $$$$ – RobK nails it !

  18. wal1957

    Pink Batt, NDIS, NBN, Cash for Clunkers, Dudmarines, Snowy Hydro 2.0 etc… etc

    I would love to know where the fictional money tree is that pays for these ‘brain farts’.

    Our politicians today would have to be the most stupid, inept, corrupt and loathed of all time.

    I am convinced that not one of them is capable of thinking problems through, without their minders/advisors guiding them. That is a big problem, because their advisors are no bloody better!

  19. cohenite

    Tumut 3 already has a pumped hydro capacity which has never been used because it costs 25% more than it generates.

  20. John Bayley

    I would love to know where the fictional money tree is that pays for these ‘brain farts’.

    For just one example, see Shorten’s proposed abolition of franked dividend refunds to zero taxed investors (retirees in pension stage).

    I bet Mal and Scott feel envious that they did not think of it first!

    Expect many more such proposals for the ‘evil rich’ to pay their ‘fair share’ of tax, from both Lib/Lab.

  21. John Constantine

    The desalinisation plants were built on borrowed and squandered debt, simply to progress decolonisation through Big Australia, so nobody could claim there wasn’t enough water for fifteen million in Melbourne.

    Snowy 2.0 is just theatre to jolly along their agenda until all alternatives are so broken there is no way back.

    Ponzi will work if we gulag all those that disrespect Ponzi.

    And take their super and houses and accumulated racist wealth to fund the final layer of Ponzi which makes everyone not in a gulag rich.

  22. MikeS

    I worked for Snowy Hydro 1.0 as a young undergrad electrical engineer 38 years ago. Even then I realised that you couldn’t reproduce the massive works involved because of enviro/green obstruction. I couldn’t imagine building another transmission line through the Kosciusko National Park at a time when the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service had opinions about the colour of rooftops inside the parks.
    And this was in 1980, we are tenfold more stupid today. Turnbull better have a powerful tranquilizer gun if he thinks his plan could ever proceed. Perhaps he knows it will never happen.

    At least one vote awaits any party who abandon this crap, banish the RET and the vain belief that they can save anything to do with the weather.

  23. Muddy

    These numbers are all well and good, but how does the normal dribbling redneck like myself understand this? For the purpose of taking the argument to the masses, what analogies can be made that they will connect with (what do they stand to gain or lose?) and understand? While engineers, economists and mathematicians might understand the sums, your usual Joe and Jodie Blow and their children Bacardi and Captain Morgan, may scratch their head at what seems abstract to them, and then continue their shopping at Aldi. I mean this seriously. How can this information be made more appealing and understandable to a wider audience?

  24. Michael Warren

    Forgive my ignorance of the Snowy Scheme as it currently is, but is there a lake at the bottom of it from which they can draw water to pump uphill? Or will they have to build another dam at the bottom to catch the outflow of the current scheme?

  25. EvilElvis

    Lots of good comments and points above but we really need not look deeper than this,

    440,000 MWh of energy is needed to pump enough water to achieve the 350,000 MWh output

    Change the MWh to $ or any other metric you desire, you’re putting in X amount to get back three quarters of X. Not a great investment.

  26. duncanm

    enough with your sorcery and numbers!

    its the vibe.

  27. duncanm

    These numbers are all well and good, but how does the normal dribbling redneck like myself understand this? For the purpose of taking the argument to the masses, what analogies can be made that they will connect with (what do they stand to gain or lose?) and understand?

    If snowy 2.0 is a swimming pool, you have a leaky hose from a windmill-pumped well that does about a bucket an hour when the wind is blowing to fill it. There’s a hundred people sourcing their water from it ten times faster than the pump works.

  28. OneWorldGovernment

    I disagree with your whole summary.

    It is the so called Commonwealth of Australia taking control of one of Australia’s largest infrastructures from The States of NSW and Victoria.

    Something that the Canberra ‘mandarins’ have been trying to do for years and at least since the 1980’s.

    The Commonwealth then control who gets the water!

    You can kiss the Riverina Rice Industry goodbye.

    Forget about dairying in the Murray Valley.

    Forget the electricity bit. That’s just the excuse.

  29. The Commonwealth then control who gets the water!
    Forget the electricity bit. That’s just the excuse.

    Amen, brother.
    The truly amazing bit is how they keep doing it over and over again, with hardly anybody noticing.

  30. Snoopy

    All this shuffling of water around will also incur losses of water as well power input losses. It isn’t a sealed system.
    And in a multi year drought, and let’s face it, Australian droughts are all mutliyear or it is just a dry spell, replenishment will be an issue, unless waffles thinks he can reduce environmental flows.

    In wet times excess water can be split and stored as hydrogen and oxygen. In drought times, zap! and bingo! water.

  31. For the purpose of taking the argument to the masses, what analogies can be made that they will connect with (what do they stand to gain or lose?) and understand?

    See OWG above.
    It is extremely doubtful that Snowy 2 will ever see the light of day.
    Trying to explain a sleight of hand switcheroo is a bridge too far.
    It is designed to be that way.
    Instead, explain to your “dribbling redneck” that it is just another grab for power by Canberra.
    They will understand that, no problems.

  32. None

    The purpose of this frighing idiocy is to grab the snowy hydro infrastructure from the states. Once the feds own the Snowy they own the water. Kiss all the frugging farmers down the river good bye and start learning Chinese. If I weren’t a law abiding citizen I’d be raising an army about now and planning to frigging annihilate Canberra on a sitting day.

  33. mareeS

    It’s only 50yrs plus a bit ago that my brothers and I took our billycart down to the beach at Merewether every Saturday afternoon to collect coal for our family’s household heating and cooking range.

    That’s not so long ago, really. Electricity was in short supply, mostly there was one light per room, and you switched it off when you left. This was in Australia’s largest industrial city.

    Those times were just before the massive infrastructure build of coal fired power stations in the Hunter Valley in the 1960s-70s that ramped up living standards hugely to what they are today.

    Now this power is being progressively turned off. Consider what we might return to.

  34. John Michelmore

    I think everyone is missing the point here, what is proposed here is a huge perpetual motion installation, Australia will be able to sell this technology overseas and recoup the expenditure and make a profit!

  35. Diogenes

    (basic physics tells us here are no “free lunches”)

    Thats OK, Malcolm will just a pass a law suspending the laws of physics,after all the laws of Australia trump those other pesky other laws.

  36. David Bidstrup,

    There are some other very large cost components that need to be included. You included the cost of power for pumping, but not Fixed Operation and Maintenance Costs.

    However a much larger cost is transmission. If the power is to come from intermittent renewables, like wind and solar power stations, transmission lines have to be run to these widely dispersed generators. They are long lines and every one has to be able to carry the maximum power output of the power stations at the end of the line, even though the generators rarely produce full power and, on average, solar produces about 15-20% and wind about 30-35% of their capacity. So long power lines with capacity 3 to 5 greater than their average load are required. The cost of these is an enormous additional cost that should be included for a fair assessment of the projects economic viability.

    It’s also worth pointing out that pumped hydro has been investigated many, many times throughout the world over the past 30-40 years, but seldom has been found to be viable since the 1980’s – i.e. since flexible, cheap, fast build, low financial risk, gas generators became a better option.

  37. Natural Instinct, #2660670

    You listed efficiencies of some components of the pumped hydro system. However, by far the largest efficiency loss is from friction losses in the water flow in the tunnels. The tunnels for Snowy Hydro 2 are exceptionally long for pumped hydro. They are over 20 km, where most pumped hydro schemes have tunnels or pipes of less than a few km. Tumut 3’s pipes are about 0.5 km length and Wivenhoe much less.

  38. David Bidstrup

    Muddy: Dribbling rednecks should expect those who govern us to be smart enough to see through bullshit like this and do the right thing. They follow the least resistance course for votes.

    Peter Lang: I agree with you but sometimes word count matters.

  39. Wil

    They need not one reservoir to pump the water to, but another of the same capacity to receive and hold.
    Have they thought of that?
    Don’t get me started on submarines, army personnel carriers made in Qld… Ha ha
    No logic in any of it. They are all madder than hatters..

  40. Natural Instinct

    Peter Lang #2661143, posted on March 15, 2018 at 10:48 am
    .
    You are quite correct and right.
    I had no idea they were pumping and drawing from so far.
    I thought is was like Wivenhoe just a couple of hundred metres pipe length, up and down the bank of the dam wall, so most head loss was static head with minimal friction loss.
    .
    who cares. If they were serious they would build three supercritical power stations – black coal fired 4 x 800MW steam units .
    one for Brisbane, one for Sydney and one for Melbourne
    SA and TAS can have a long extension cords
    and blow up all the windmills, just like the Dutch did 100 years ago when electricity was invented.

  41. egg_

    I worked for Snowy Hydro 1.0 as a young undergrad electrical engineer 38 years ago. Even then I realised that you couldn’t reproduce the massive works involved because of enviro/green obstruction. I couldn’t imagine building another transmission line through the Kosciusko National Park at a time when the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service had opinions about the colour of rooftops inside the parks.
    And this was in 1980, we are tenfold more stupid today. Turnbull better have a powerful tranquilizer gun if he thinks his plan could ever proceed.

    ‘Green Energy’ obstructed by Green tape?
    Da ironing!

    Sounded like a white elephant (distraction squirrel?) from the outset.

  42. Rayvic

    “I wonder why our “leaders” do not understand that they just look stupid promoting these ridiculous ideas.”

    They just don’t look stupid — they are stupid — for promoting such ridiculous ideas. They confirm their science and economics illiteracy.

    If they proceed, it would result in another $10 billion of our scarce resources effectively squandered. This comes on top of more than $50 billion squandered on the sub-standard NBN and $50 billion squandered on obsolete-technology submarines.

  43. truth

    Myrddin Seren …
    I agree.
    Potsdam Institute director…feted in Australia in recent years …Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber…in a paper with others has said…
    “Only an induced implosion of the fossil fueled business as usual through disruptive changes in investment dynamics, technology and consumer behavior could move those scenarios closer to reality”.
    ….his fervently-desired ‘scenarios’ being ‘the collapse of the industry which uses fossil fuels’….
    ….and we see before our eyes that his dream is close to coming true in Australia….more recklessly than in any other 1st world country.
    The existing Snowy Hydro itself ….or Gordon Wymer, the company’s former CFO …now Head of Commercial…in charge of the Snowy 2.0 project…..has said that it’s [Snowy Hydro’s] business model is ‘toast’ ..’without a rapid transition to renewables’.
    So they REQUIRE IT….indicating Australia has a choice between saving SNOWY HYDRO itself …or saving COAL-FIRED POWER in Australia.
    It seems that not only will they NOT use coal-fired power for the Snowy 2.0 pumping…but they don’t want coal-fired power to be in existence.
    This gives the renewable energy CULT enormous leverage for its heist of the millennium and its subsidies that siphon off billions in total from the pockets of the poor and middle-income earners to make the uber-rich carpetbaggers and Turnbull’s comrades in the money-shifting business…Bloomberg and Goldman Sachs et al…rich beyond their wildest dreams and our imaginings.
    The CULT will be KING and COERCION rife at every level of energy generation and consumer use IMO.
    It will HAVE to be because the intermittents require a huge overbuild and unsustainably massive sums spent to make them reliable and available.
    TOTAL CONTROL will be required…on the pretext of honoring our Paris Agreement [ aka total surrender of Australian sovereignty to Global Socialism]…all of us …private consumers and industry…completely HOSTAGE to the CULT of the weather-dependent intermittent rentseekers.
    Resistance will be futile …to paraphrase AEMO’s Zibelman..Turnbull’s and Hillary Clinton’s pick for energy czar ….who’s now ‘transforming’ every aspect of Australia’s entire economy…designing the futures of our children’s WHOLE LIVES in her ‘exciting experiment’.
    There’ll be a gold rush-style frenzy from all over the world to fill the generation gap created by the scorched earth policy of Turnbull and the Green/Left appointees he’s surrounded himself with..like Zibelman…Finkel…Parkinson & the PMO…Schott et al.
    Australians will pay a heavy price in every way..subsidies…electricity bills…cost of EVERYthing made in Australia and everything imported as well… because costs of every industry and enterprise that’s left in the country after the EXODUS..will soar…and we know who pays for ALL of that in the end.
    But in the end we and our kids will pay a heavy price in even worse ways…in what Australia can no longer afford …as it descends into third world energy insecurity and poverty…Medicare…PBS drugs…NDIS…welfare and pensions…jobs…military security and sovereignty….border control….all of it inviting ‘Camp of the Saints’-style descent into chaos.

  44. To say ” The federal government will now outlay a further $6 billion to buy back the NSW and Victorian interests in “Snowy 1.0” giving a total of $10 billion all of which will be funded one way or the other by power consumers.” is not good accounting. This is not a cost, just a transfer of ownership.

  45. Combine Dave

    Just wait until Snowy 2.0 becomes the justification for open borders/welcome refugees continuing!

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