Snowy 2.0 FAQs

What is the Snowy 2.0 project?
What were the outcomes of the feasibility study?
How much is Snowy 2.0 going to cost?
How long will it take to build Snowy 2.0?
What workforce and business opportunities will Snowy 2.0 generate?
What are Snowy 2.0 Exploratory Works?
What are the environmental impacts of the Snowy 2.0 project?
What will happen with the rock excavated for the Snowy 2.0 project
Will Snowy 2.0 use or need more water?
How does pumped hydro work?
How is Snowy 2.0 a ‘battery’?
What is dispatchable generation and why is this important to Snowy 2.0?
The role for Snowy 2.0 and batteries
Do you use more energy to pump than you make when you generate?
Will we need a Snowy 3.0, 4.0 etc?
What about transmission of Snowy 2.0 power?
Who owns Snowy Hydro?
What are the next steps to progress Snowy 2.0?

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What is the Snowy 2.0 project?

Snowy 2.0 is an expansion of the existing Snowy Scheme, adding new pumped hydro capability between Tantangara and Talbingo reservoirs through an underground network of tunnels and a new underground power station. The project would increase our generation capacity by up to 2,000 megawatts, and at full capacity, about 350 000 megawatt hours of energy storage - enough to power three million homes for more than a week.

Snowy 2.0 will act like a giant battery, storing water which can be used as energy at times of high  demand. This large-scale storage capability will be critical for the energy market as the economy decarbonises and more intermittent sources of electricity generation (like wind and solar) come online, while coal fired generation continues to retire.

The dispatchable generation of Snowy 2.0 (and the existing Snowy Hydro business) will 'firm up' new intermittent renewable generation and underpin the stability of the electricity system.

What were the outcomes of the feasibility study?

The feasibility study demonstrated the key benefits of Snowy 2.0, including:

  • System security and reliability - Snowy 2.0’s dispatchable energy generation can respond within minutes to changing market needs.
  • Lower energy prices - wholesale energy costs will be lower with Snowy 2.0 in the market than without.
  • The central location - power from Snowy 2.0 will reach all energy system users, including the major load centres of Sydney and Melbourne directly and South Australia indirectly.
  • Low emissions - Snowy 2.0 enables a low emissions future to be delivered at least cost, by providing energy system stability that supports the accelerated growth of the currently poorly integrated intermittent renewable generation.

The feasibility study also concludes that Snowy 2.0:

  • Is technically feasible - that is, it can be physically built and there is a base case design, construction schedule and costing;
  • Is financially feasible - it will generate returns that meet Snowy Hydro’s stringent investment hurdles;
  • Can be funded internally by Snowy Hydro, and we are looking at a range of financing options;
  • Will not have any impact on downstream water users and doesn’t change the water release obligations under Snowy Hydro’s water licence; and
  • Will go through well established and robust planning and environmental approval processes.

How much is Snowy 2.0 going to cost?

Snowy Hydro engaged consultants Turner and Townsend to provide a fully integrated cost estimate and Project schedule as part of the feasibility study. The current cost estimate is between $3.8-$4.5 billion.

How long will it take to build Snowy 2.0?

The first power to be generated by Snowy 2.0 is expected in late 2024.  The complete Snowy 2.0 base case construction schedule is about seven years from final investment decision.

What workforce and business opportunities will Snowy 2.0 generate?


The Snowy 2.0 workforce is expected to grow from a small base in year one, to an estimated 1,000 – 2,000 at peak times. There will also be a large number of jobs generated indirectly by the project, both regionally and beyond.

A workforce plan is being developed as the project progresses to FID and Snowy Hydro is seeking specialist contractors (through a tender process) to carry out the civil engineering and mechanical and electrical aspects of the build.

A Snowy 2.0 Business Directory has been established for local businesses interested in working on the Snowy 2.0 project. To register your interest please complete the online form and see the business directory page for more information.

What are Snowy 2.0 Exploratory Works?

Snowy Hydro is seeking approval for a program of exploratory works to gain a greater understanding of the underground geological conditions at the proposed location of the new Snowy 2.0 power station.

The power station consists of multiple large caverns, about 850m below ground, which would house the machine and transformer halls.

The proposed exploratory works include excavating an exploratory tunnel to the likely location of the caverns in order to investigate underground conditions in greater detail. This information will be critical to the final design and site of the power station.

The works also involve establishment of a construction compound and supporting infrastructure, upgrade and establishment of access roads and establishment of barge access infrastructure on Talbingo Reservoir.

The exploratory works EIS has been submitted to DPE and is available online for the public to review and make submissions.

What are the environmental impacts of the Snowy 2.0 project?

For almost 70 years Snowy Hydro has responsibly operated the Snowy Scheme in Kosciuszko National Park. We see the park as our backyard and are absolutely committed to minimising any potential impacts of Snowy 2.0, as we do for our existing business.

Each phase of Snowy 2.0 will be the subject of a rigorous EIS process which will take into full consideration the potential environmental, social and economic impacts of the project and provide measures to avoid, reduce and mitigate these.

The project is expected to provide broad-scale environmental benefits through its long-term displacement of more carbon-intensive energy generation, while at a localised level, impacts from surface works will be avoided where possible and minimised and offset through positive management actions.

Following construction, land that has been disturbed will be rehabilitated to ensure a safe and stable environment and to meet our development approval requirements.

What will happen with the rock excavated for the Snowy 2.0 project

Management of the rock and soil excavated by tunnelling is a key environmental consideration for the Snowy 2.0 project. As part of the EIS process we are investigating a number of disposal options including: reusing the rock as road base or in construction materials, and disposal on land or within the Scheme’s vast reservoirs. A combination of these options may be employed.

It’s important to remember that the excavated rock is natural material.

To help us determine the best excavated rock disposal option, we’re commissioning independent scientific studies that will conclusively answer the technical, geological and water-related aspects of each option. The studies will determine local and downstream impacts during construction and operation, as well as how the rock would behave over the long term and under different conditions (including extreme flooding, droughts etc).

This scientific research will be rigorous, checked by independent authorities and documented in our EIS, which will be published online for community feedback as part of the environment and planning approvals process.

Will Snowy 2.0 use or need more water?

The Snowy Scheme operates under a strict water licence issued by the NSW Government. Snowy 2.0 will not in any way impact on Snowy Hydro’s continued compliance with the water licence.

In particular, there will be no change to its water release obligations from both the Murray and Tumut developments, and no change to environmental release obligations, meaning Snowy 2.0 will not have any impact on downstream water users or environmental flows.

Snowy 2.0 will also be less impacted by water inflows, so it will be less impacted by droughts. Snowy 2.0's pumping capabilities work in a 'closed' system - water is ‘recycled’ between the two storages so the same water can be used to generate power more than once. It will also provide Snowy Hydro with more options to manage inflows and water shortages over the long term.

Snowy Hydro will continue to operate Tantangara and Talbingo reservoirs within existing Scheme operational and regulatory requirements, including the established operating target storage levels.

This means that the maximum and minimum operating levels of the two reservoirs will not change due to Snowy 2.0. It is possible that the frequency of water level changes will increase as the water is cycled between Tantangara and Talbingo reservoirs.

How does pumped hydro work?

Pumped hydro operates like a conventional hydroelectric scheme; in periods of high demand, electricity is generated by releasing water from an upper reservoir and into a lower reservoir. However, instead of releasing the water after energy has been generated, a pumped hydro scheme 'recycles' or pumps water back to the upper reservoir during times of low energy demand, so it can be used again.

How is Snowy 2.0 a ‘battery’?

The ability to pump and store water in huge quantities would see Snowy 2.0 act like a battery in the sense of absorbing, storing and dispatching energy. Snowy 2.0 will pump water using electricity at times of low demand and store it in Tantangara Reservoir. Then, when energy is needed most, this stored water will be released into Talbingo Reservoir to generate and dispatch electricity.

Pumping water at times of low demand means we are able to generate energy at other times, when consumers need it most. For example, if the wind is blowing in the middle of the night when consumers are asleep, wind energy can be used to pump water into storage and when they wake up and need electricity, we are able to generate energy.

What is dispatchable generation and why is this important to Snowy 2.0

Dispatchable generators are flexible, meaning electricity can be quickly provided to the grid on order or according to market demands. Snowy 2.0 will produce dispatchable generation within minutes, for example at times of peak demand or when wind or solar power is not available.

As more wind and solar enters the NEM we will see increased market volatility which impacts on energy prices. Intermittency also creates instability in the network which impacts the system’s stability and reliability.

The dispatchable generation of Snowy 2.0 (and the existing Snowy Hydro business) will help to ‘firm’ up the new intermittent renewable generation and underpin the stability of the system.

The role for Snowy 2.0 and batteries


The future NEM will require a huge amount of storage, which will be provided from a mix of projects and storage options. Domestic and commercial batteries, small-scale and large-scale hydro projects and demand management will play a role.

Batteries provide storage over short time intervals (several minutes up to an hour), while Snowy 2.0’s size and scale (350 gigawatt hours or 175 hours of operation) is storage that can underpin the stability and reliability of the NEM, even during prolonged weather events such as wind or solar ‘droughts’.

For example, in South Australia across the financial years of 2015 and 2016, there was a deficit between average wind production over a two-week period, and the minimum wind production over two weeks, of 60GWh. Assuming a 100MW battery was fully charged at 0.129GWh, it would be only be able to cover 0.2% (or a few hours) of this two-week energy deficit.

Snowy 2.0, however, could generate energy to fill the gaps throughout the two-week period without needing to recharge.

Do you use more energy to pump than you make when you generate?

Yes, there is a small efficiency loss when water is pumped. However, pumping water gives us the ability to absorb energy when it’s not needed, store the water, and release it to generate energy when required.

For example, the sun shines the brightest during the middle of the day, and this is when solar generation is at its peak. However, during the day many people are at work or school so energy demands are not at their peak. Snowy 2.0 could use this solar energy to pump water so that when the sun sets and people get home, we can generate energy to meet the spike in demand that occurs in the early evening.

While we lose some energy pumping water, there is no other way to have it sitting in storage ready to be used when consumers need it most. You can’t make the wind blow or the sun shine, but with pumped hydro you can generated energy on demand.

Will we need a Snowy 3.0, 4.0 etc?

Yes, over coming decades the NEM will need all the storage it can get. From the early 2030s, we expect there will be the need and business case for further expansions of the Snowy Scheme (Snowy 3.0 and 4.0) to keep up with the rapidly-changing NEM and the increased requirements for large-scale storage and dispatchable generation.

Snowy 2.0 could act as a model for further pumped hydro expansion projects in the area in between Tantangara and Talbingo reservoirs and further expansions could increase the Scheme’s capacity by up to 8000MW.

Projects considered after the construction of Snowy 2.0 would be very cost-effective as they would utilise previously built access routes and support infrastructure.

In addition to Snowy 2.0 (and the future possibilities of 3.0, 4.0) we expect to see a mix of other new projects such as commercial and domestic batteries and demand management solutions meeting the needs of the NEM.

What about transmission of Snowy 2.0 power?

The existing transmission network was built many decades ago to get the energy from coal-fired plants to the market.

Our energy system is rapidly changing. In the future new transmission routes will be needed to connect new generation projects, renewable energy zones that are geographically dispersed and strategic storage projects right across the NEM.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) is responsible for planning the national transmission network for the future. AEMO has released its inaugural Integrated System Plan (ISP) which provides the transmission system developments to meet future NEM requirements.

AEMO’s ISP supports strategic storage initiatives such as Snowy 2.0, which is required to firm up intermittent renewables in NSW and Victoria, and indirectly, South Australia. The proposed upgrades to the grid are to the shared transmission network that renewable energy generation and storage projects connect to as they come online. There is a regulatory framework in place to fund the shared network upgrades.

Snowy Hydro (as a generator) does not own or operate the shared network and for this reason, the cost associated with upgrading the shared transmission network cannot be included in the 2.0 project costs. However, the cost of the lines that are required to connect Snowy 2.0 to the shared network will be funded by the project, as they are connection assets to be used solely by Snowy Hydro.

Who owns Snowy Hydro?

Snowy Hydro has been an entity incorporated under the Corporations Act (Cth) 2001 since 2002, and is a Corporations Law company governed by an independent Board of Directors.

The Commonwealth Government is the sole shareholder of Snowy Hydro Ltd.

What are the next steps to progress Snowy 2.0?

Snowy Hydro is carrying out further work and project refinements on Snowy 2.0 so its independent Board of Directors can make a final investment decision. This is expected in late 2018.

The work includes assessing project tenders, producing a final design for Snowy 2.0, finalising funding for the project and working through well-established and rigorous environmental and planning approval processes.

Snowy Hydro is also currently seeking approval to carry out a program of exploratory works to gain a greater understanding of the underground geological conditions at the proposed location of the power station. An EIS for exploratory works has been submitted to DPE and community feedback can be provided during the public exhibition period. The EIS is available here to view and make submissions.

Approval from the NSW Minister for Planning is required before exploratory works can go ahead.