Snow Job: Giant Pumped Hydro Scheme Set to Destroy Australia’s Favourite National Park

Future generations will wonder why this one destroyed the planet, while claiming to save it, using completely useless industrial wind turbines and solar panels.

Whether it’s dumping hundreds of thousands of toxic solar panels and windmill blades into landfill, or the toxic lakes in China where the rare earths are processed that make them, the so-called ‘green’ energy revolution is anything but.

Touted by ex-PM Malcom Turnbull and his hapless sidekick, Josh Frydenberg as the Nation’s mega-battery, the heavily-hyped Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro scheme (shelved in the 1970s because it was uneconomic then) has been heralded as the saviour for the Australian wind industry.

The line goes something like this: if we use 3 MWh of wind power to pump water through 27 km of tunnels, over an elevation of 900m, later, when power consumers actually need it, Snowy Hydro could return 2 MWh to the grid.

Never mind squandering 1/4 to 1/3 of the electricity originally generated; never mind that with the inclusion of the $85 per MWh REC the cost of the wind power involved exceeds $110 per MWh; never mind that the owners of Snowy 2.0 will charge a further $150-300 per MWh to re-deliver power to the grid; never mind that, in reality, the power used to pump the water uphill will largely come from coal-fired power plants, delivered overnight when it’s cheapest.

STT has, of course, focused on the economic nonsense outlined above, whereas those charged with protecting Australia’s favourite National Park, Kosciuszko, are more concerned about the wholesale destruction about to be meted out across a pristine alpine environment by a completely pointless project.

Snowy 2.0: it’s all downhill
The Australian
Gary Dunnett
13 May 2020

The Snowy Mountains Scheme stands head and shoulders above every nation-building project in Australia, with the possible exceptions of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House.

It shouldn’t be any surprise that in 2017 Malcolm Turnbull, the prime minister at the time, responded to Snowy Hydro’s pitch for the Snowy 2.0 project by announcing this “electricity game changer”. All it needed was a new tunnel and underground power station between two existing reservoirs, costing $2bn and taking just four years to construct.

The project would deliver massive storage to counteract the intermittency of renewable generators, it would be constructed wholly underground with negligible environmental impacts, and it would launch a new chapter in the nation-building story of the Snowy Mountains.

Australians respect leaders of vision. We also expect their projects to be subject to detailed evaluation of the claimed costs and outcomes. In the case of Snowy 2.0, that takes the form of four environmental impact statements.

The reality that has emerged since the public exhibition of the main works EIS is wildly different to the vision for a low environmental impact electricity game changer. The National Parks Association of NSW, along with a group of environmental, energy and economic experts, has been scrutinising Snowy Hydro’s claims and has concluded that they just don’t stack up.

Far from having a negligible impact on Kosciuszko National Park, Snowy 2.0 would demolish hundreds of hectares of threatened species habitat; drive the stocky galaxias, a native fish, into extinction; spread the declared noxious pest redfin perch and the virulent EHN virus throughout the headwaters of major river catchments (Murrumbidgee, Snowy and Murray); depress groundwater and stream flows above the tunnel; and dump 20 million tonnes of excavated soil, contaminated with asbestos and acid-forming rock, into Kosciuszko National Park.

Snowy Hydro has downplayed the significance of these costs, offering the assurance that only a small percentage of the park would be destroyed. The reality is that Snowy 2.0 is the largest, most destructive develop­ment proposed in an Australian national park, let alone one as ­irreplaceable as the National Heritage-listed Kosciuszko.

On the benefits side of the ledger, Snowy Hydro claims Snowy 2.0 will enable the transition to a carbon-neutral future. The implication is that the development’s contribution to emissions control justifies sacrificing the park.

Do these claims stack up? Not according to the experts who have analysed the claimed contributions of Snowy 2.0 to the National Electricity Market and the transition to renewals. They point out that the amount of energy storage provided by Snowy 2.0 isn’t needed until 2030. The Snowy Scheme already has significant capacity through the Tumut 3 pumped storage station, which has barely run since it was constructed a half-century ago. Surely this untapped capacity should be used first?

Far from drawing on “excess” renewable energy, Snowy 2.0 would draw most of its pumping energy from coal-fired power ­stations while they remain in the system. Rather than reducing emissions, Snowy 2.0 would incur more than 50 million tonnes of greenhouse gases from its construction and first decade of operation.

Even when there is no coal-fired power on the system, is it ideal to have a single massive storage in a remote part of NSW? The best location for storage is at the point of generation or as close as possible to consumers. This is why most renewable projects are incorporating on-site batteries. Likewise, the spread of domestic batteries points to a more distributed model for storage, which in combination with the rollout of demand management systems largely negates the need for a large-scale storage.

Who knows what storage ­solutions will be available in a decade or two? What is clear is that the world is turning away from pumped hydro, with demand management, batteries and potentially renewable hydrogen the current predictions for low environmental cost mass storage.

A fundamental problem for Snowy 2.0 is that it is less efficient than alternative storage options, losing about 40 per cent of energy cycled. That inefficiency is built into Snowy 2.0, a function of the water friction losses along the 27km tunnel between reservoirs, the longest in the world, and the high transmission losses because of its excessive distance from source generators and consumers. There are cheaper, more ­efficient, less polluting and less environmentally damaging storage alternatives, even within the Snowy Scheme.

The conclusion is unavoidable. Snowy 2.0 is not a necessary evil to be inflicted on Kosciuszko National Park for the sake of reduced national greenhouse emissions.

On the contrary, Snowy 2.0 emerges as an environmentally damaging, inefficient, unnecessary and polluting project that incurs excessive costs while offering little benefit — a white elephant of monumental scale.

Approving the destruction of so much of Kosciuszko National Park for a phantasmic environmental benefit would be perverse. Our alpine icon is suffering from the abuses of past development, feral pests and the ravages of the recent fires.

NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes needs to give Kosciuszko a chance to recover, not deliver another assault.

Gary Dunnett, Executive Officer, National Parks Association of NSW
The Australian

As chief of the National Parks Association NSW, Gary Dunnett might know a thing or two about Australia’s High Country, but he displays a staggering level of ignorance when it comes to his claims about storing electricity.

Apart from pumped hydro, the other purported solution to the chaos delivered by wind and solar is said to be giant lithium-ion batteries, of the kind peddled by Elon Musk.

The reefer-smoking, Californian carpetbagger managed to offload one unit in wind power obsessed, South Australia, collected $150 million, and was never seen again. That costly little Vanity Project is capable of powering Australia’s renewable energy capital for all of four minutes.

As STT has been pointing out for some time now, the concept of grid-scale battery storage is just that: a concept.

There is no industrial scale electricity storage system using batteries operating anywhere in the world: not in that high-tech leader, the USA; nor in Europe’s wind power capital, Denmark; nor in that wind and solar power champion, Germany.

For want of a better term, grid-scale battery storage is a ‘myth’.

The capacity of the few batteries that have been installed next to wind or solar projects is utterly trivial in the grand scheme of things. And domestic battery storage is even less significant.

His claims about hydrogen being converted from fossil fuels – coal or methane – using mountains of electricity, stored and then used at some later time at a vaguely economic cost is even more fanciful. Sure, at a technical level, it can probably be done, but the cost of the power generated would be astronomical.

If Gary Dunnett wants to protect his beloved Kosciuszko National Park and have reliable, affordable power that does not generate carbon dioxide gas in the process, he ought to be talking about nuclear power and nothing else.

In the wash up, it seems to us that Dunnett is just another NIMBY, who is all in favour of renewable energy, right up to the point where it’s about to land on his doorstep.

About stopthesethings

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

Comments

  1. Just imagine an oil or gas operation would destroy an entire valley down to the last bug. The world would be up in arms – there would be screams for justice in every world capital and there would be televised justice. Rightly so. But when a project that the Green Industrial Complex deems essential destroys an entire valley or razes ancient forests, thats just OK. The world needs this. The hypocrisy is vomit-inducing.

  2. Reblogged this on uwerolandgross.

  3. Crispin bpm says:

    As Australia dilly-dallies on energy policy, the coal trains continue. How much longer can the government ignore this simple fact?

    Build some new HELE coal plants!

    It is simply hypocritical to export coal whilst refusing to use it ourselves.

    It makes no sense!

    Video published by Sydney and Regional Trains Vlogs…

  4. Reblogged this on ajmarciniak.

  5. I would love some journalist to find out how much turnbull and his pathetic excuse for a son stand to benefit from investment in renewables that are now going ahead thanks to his snowy 2.0 push..

    • Indeed. You might start by sending this to every journo you think has some understanding of the RE scam

      https://stopthesethings.com/2017/03/13/born-lucky-stars-align-perfectly-for-pms-son-with-mammoth-bet-on-wind-power-outfit-infigen/

    • Bill Quinn says:

      Reading the blurb put out by the CEFC it appears that Turnbull and Son through Nexif and Infigen have pocketed in excess of $400 Million of Taxpayers hard earned cash for their RE Boondoggles. Whenever I try to post this well hidden information in the paper supposedly for the Informed Australians my posts get immediately binned, although I did get 1 past a while ago setting this most disgusting inside Fraud on the Country. The tentacles of the Miserable Ghost still seem to spread far and wide although by observing the Data at that wonderful website aneroid.com it can be seen that Dear Little Alex does not seem to be able to get much more than 20% of the rated power out put of his Lincoln Gap Windfarm on windy days. Maybe Angus Taylor is doing a better job than most give him credit for.

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