The Snowy Scheme: Time to Do it Again

If Australia was serious about building a renewable energy future it certainly wouldn’t be pouring $billions in REC Tax into the pockets of Union Superfund backed wind power outfits like Pac Hydro, or near bankrupt circuses like Infigen. If bang for renewable buck is what we’re after then we ought to be pumping all of our resources into hydro power.

As millionaire businessmen Dick Smith notes in this video, we’ve done it all before:

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Dick laments the fact that our current crop of politicians don’t seem to have the courage to set out on Nation building projects like that any more. Well, it’s time they did. Hydro is a REAL renewable alternative that STT has been championing for some time now.

The Snowy Hydro Scheme is – without doubt – the single greatest renewable energy project ever built in Australia – with a mammoth 3,950 MW of capacity, which is available on-demand (unlike the childish nonsense of wind power). It cost $1 billion (in today’s money) to build. Compare the cost of the Snowy Scheme with the touted $1.5 billion cost of the ridiculous CERES project – planned for SA’s Yorke Peninsula – that “promises” a capacity of 670 MW – except (in the unlikely event it were built) its operators will never be able to tell you just when they might deliver some, or any part, of that figure (see our post here).  Of course, 197 of these things speared into the best barley growing country in Australia will do nothing for long-term water security.

Cheap, clean, reliable sparks aside – the Snowy system allows for the capture and orderly release of water into the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers which – over 50 years – has built and maintained hundreds of thriving rural communities downstream. Agriculture and horticulture – which would have been otherwise impossible – fed by water sent West to the plains, not East to the sea – led to sustainable economic growth and wealth for thousands of migrant families that settled along these rivers in the Sunraysia and SA’s Riverland. The Snowy scheme kept Senator Nick Xenophon’s home State, South Australia from dying of thirst a dozen times since it was built.  Adelaide survives – and only survives – thanks to the water fed to it down the Murray from the Snowy system.

There are over 70 hydro-power projects already scoped out from Victoria to Northern Queensland just waiting for a little political courage and a dash of vision.

Here is an SBS documentary on the Snowy Hydro Scheme (in 6 parts) that revisits a project that truly defined Australia as a modern Nation. Not only did it help to literally power Post-War prosperity and turn the Murray-Murrumbidgee Basin into Australia’s food bowl, it gave employment to tens of thousands of migrants fleeing war ravaged Europe. These families – from over 30 different Countries – went on to great success; and later, many of their number, became leaders in industry, business and politics.

We digress to note that the lunatic fringe of the hard-green-left that run wind-power-fantasy-blogs like yes2ruining-us and ruin-economy have taken to attacking Liberal MP, Angus Taylor as “anti-renewable” because he’s had the temerity call the wind power fraud for what it is.

But to call Angus “the Enforcer” Taylor “anti-renewable” is specious in the extreme. Angus is a huge fan of hydro – not least because his grandfather, Sir William Hudson was the driving force behind the Snowy Scheme, which took 25 years to build and employed over 100,000.

Bill Hudson (aptly nicknamed “the Lion of Cooma” by PM, Bob Menzies) – as the Commissioner of the Scheme – is the central player in this excellent documentary. Be sure to share it with your children and/or grandchildren – and encourage them to make our history, their future. Enjoy!

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snowy hydro

It’s time to do it all again.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. Peter Lang says:

    But to call Angus “the Enforcer” Taylor “anti-renewable” is specious in the extreme. Angus is a huge fan of hydro – not least because his grandfather, Sir William Hudson was the driving force behind the Snowy Scheme, which took 25 years to build and employed over 100,000.

    It’s good to know that Angus Taylor is a grandson of Sir William Hudson. I grew up near the Snowy, and my family had great friends amongst the engineers that built it. I visited many of the projects as a child and was the Guthega coffer dam when they opened the diversion tunnel. And in the Guthega-Munyang tunnnel when it was being excavated. Then studied the whole scheme in final undergraduate year at ANU.

    But, as I said in the previous comment, hydro in not Australia;s future. Nuclear is. It can be our equivalent of the Snowy Mountains Scheme”. It will give stable employment for a highly skilled workforce for Australia. We can develop the engineering capabilities equivalent to we did with the Snowy Mountains. We can then export our specialist engineering services to other countries, just like we did with the Snowy. Some will argue that is not the case f\or nuclear because we won’t manufacture the components. But the same was the case for the Snowy. All the turbines, transformers and other large equipment were imported, not manufactured in Australia. With nuclear, we’d buy the most cost effective items, but there is an enormous amount of engineering design, construction and operation work to be done in Australia. Once we build up the skills, we can export them. We are good at this sort of work. it is highly technical and it is the sort of work we need for our highly educated workforce. This is the next “Snowy”, not hydro.

    Dick Smith, and Angus Taylor … please consider. 🙂

  2. Peter Lang says:

    If Australia was serious about building a renewable energy future it certainly wouldn’t be pouring $billions in REC Tax into the pockets of Union Superfund backed wind power outfits like Pac Hydro, or near bankrupt circuses like Infigen.

    I agree with this statement. But the realistically achievable solution is not with hydro. There is negligible viable hydro capacity remaining to be developed in Australia (apart from projects that have previously been rejected like the Franklin River in Tasmania and Tulley Millstream in Queensland).

    [BTW, just for interest, “Pumped-Hydro Energy Storage – Tantangara-Blowering Cost Estimate” describes a conceptual pumped hydro scheme joining two existing large reservoirs in the Snowy Mountains Scheme. It joins Tantangara and Blowering Dams with three tunnels and a power station to give 8-9 GW generating capacity and 48 GWh of energy storage. ‘Don’t miss the reviewers comments. However, this is conceptual it is not technically nor economically viable.]

    The Snowy Hydro Scheme is – without doubt – the greatest single renewable energy project ever built in Australia – with a mammoth 3,950 MW of capacity, which is available on-demand

    I agree with all that. The really great thing about the power the Snowy Mountains Hydro generates is that it is highly flexible, excellent for peaking power and for smoothing the fluctuations in the grid caused by sudden changes in demand. It can also do a black start of the whole grid if there is a massive power failure across the grid. However, the statement is selective. It doesnot mention that Snowy Hydro has a capacity factor of about 15% over the long term. That is, although it can generate lots of power, it cannot supply much energy – it supplies only about 5% of eastern Australia’s electricity.

    So, what is the realistic alternative to fossil fuel generation if we want to make substantial cuts GHG emissions from electricity? The answer is nuclear energy.

    Renewables of nuclear electricity for Australia – the costshttp://oznucforum.customer.netspace.net.au/TP4PLang.pdf compares a mostly nuclear and mostly renewables system to supply all eastern Australia’s electricity. Both alternatives reduce emissions from electricity by about 90%. Comparing the costs of these alternatives, the mostly nuclear option would be about 1/3 the capital cost, 1/2 the cost of electricity and 1/3 the CO2 abatement cost compared with the mostly renewable option.

    Below I summarise the reasons why nuclear is the realistic way to power the planet (and Australia) sustainably for the future;

    Nuclear better than renewables

    Nuclear power is better than renewable energy in all the important criteria. Renewable energy cannot be justified, on a rational basis, to be a major component of the electricity system. Here are some reasons why:

    1. Nuclear power has proven it can supply over 75% of the electricity in a large modern industrial economy, i.e. France, and has been doing so for over 30 years.

    2. Nuclear power is substantially cheaper than renewables

    3. Nuclear power is the safest way to generate electricity; it causes the least fatalities per unit of electricity supplied.

    4. Nuclear power is more environmentally benign than renewables.

    5. Material requirements per unit of electricity supplied through life for nuclear power are about 1/10th those of renewables

    6. Land area required for nuclear power is very much smaller than renewables per unit of electricity supplied through life

    7. Nuclear power requires far less expensive transmission (much shorter distances and much smaller capacity in total because the capacity needs to be sufficient for maximum output but intermittent renewables average around 10% to 40% capacity factor whereas nuclear averages around 80% to 90%).

    8. Nuclear fuel is effectively unlimited.

    9. Nuclear fuel requires a minimal amount of space for storage. Many years of nuclear fuel supply can be stored in a warehouse. This has two major benefits:

    • Energy security – it means that countries can store many years or decades of fuel at little cost, so it gives independence from fuel imports. This gives energy security from economic disruptions or military conflicts.

    • Reduced transport – nuclear fuel requires 20,000 to 2 million times less ships, trains etc per unit of energy transported. This reduces shipping costs, the quantities of oil used for the transport, and the environmental impacts of the shipping and the fuel used for transport by 4 to 6 orders of magnitude.

    There is no rational justification for renewable energy to be mandated and favoured by legislation and regulations.

  3. Jackie Rovenksy says:

    Unfortunately SA doesn’t have the river systems to create a Hydro scheme, but it does have ‘hot rocks’ which the state government seems to think is only suitable for providing electricity to the mining industry. All the SA government is interested in is supporting their friends and family involved in Wind Turbines.
    When you consider the almost total reliance on water supplies for everywhere but Adelaide and its environs, where there are some reservoirs and now the idle desal plant, is from pipelines from the Murray you can see that reliance on water supply is of the utmost importance to SA’s survival.
    Yet this government allows the ‘mitigation’ of damage to bore and other water supplies that are utilised by landholders rather than ‘disallowing/preventing damage’.
    You only have to read the CERES application and approval to see this. It will be OK for a farmers bores which supply stock etc with water to be intersected or damaged, as they will ‘obviously’ recover ‘eventually’ – but no guarantees are required and no answer to how a shortage of water for stock etc will be overcome in the meantime.
    Take a look at a map of SA and see where the pipelines run from the Murray – these include those providing water to Yorke and Eyre Peninsula’s. Yorke P. has no rivers and any streams only run when it rains. You have to wonder how a Government can endanger such a necessary resource for something that will never meet its promoted capabilities, and why Environmentalists, the Green’s and State Governments continue to support an industry that can and does damage supplies of a true necessity of life on earth.

  4. In 1974 I was fortunate to work with quite a few ex Snowy Mountains Scheme workers in Singapore, where we were building at that time the largest dry dock in the world. They were some of the most inspirational men I have ever met and as a young man at the time the experience had a lasting effect. Their optimism and ability to overcome any obstacles was to me, super human.

  5. cornwallwindwatch says:

    Reblogged this on Cornwall Wind Watch.

  6. Say YES to hydro. Looking for a renewable source of power in Far North Queensland that works? Forget Ratch’s Mt Emerald turbine development. Try the partially built, but abandoned, 600MW Tully-Millstream hydro scheme. If the government were serious about effective renewable energy solutions it should be supporting hydro, not wind. Why should useless wind power benefit from subsidies when hydro does not?

  7. Hydro would be a medium term infrastructure project requiring bipartisan political support. Inarguably the ultimate in base load clean energy with flow on benefits for regional economies. Something worth paying for. A great inheritance for the generations to come.
    Come on Angus.

Trackbacks

  1. […] The Snowy Scheme: Time to Do it Again – STOP THESE … – Unfortunately SA doesn’t have the river systems to create a Hydro scheme, but it does have ‘hot rocks’ which the state government seems to think is only … […]

  2. […] on the agenda, is Australia about to see hydropower take centre stage, once again (see our posts here and […]

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