Why do we need Snowy 2.0?

Snowy Hydro already has the capability to store huge amounts of energy. While this capability has been sufficient for the National Electricity Market (NEM) in the past, it will not be enough in the future given increasing decarbonisation. The NEM covers the States of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

Projects like Snowy 2.0 are critical if Australian businesses and households want reliable, stable and affordable energy in the future. As the economy decarbonises we are seeing more intermittent sources of electricity generation (like wind and solar) added to the energy mix while coal fired generation is retiring.

As we become more reliant on intermittent energy generation, the need for quick start dispatchable energy like hydro-power and large energy storages will become more critical. At times of high demand when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining, Snowy 2.0 could provide much needed clean energy to the market.

When it comes to capacity, cost, location and longevity, there is currently no other technology or storage option that comes close to the proposed Snowy 2.0. Snowy 2.0 is strategically located to service the two main load centres of Sydney and Melbourne and uses existing water storages, which means there is no need for new dams.

At full capacity, Snowy 2.0 could store about 350 000 megawatt hours of energy - this is enough to power three million homes for more than a week.

While large-scale and small-scale storage (such as household batteries) currently, and will continue to play a role in the energy market, nothing comes close to the role Snowy 2.0 would play. The table below outlines the scale, value for money and longevity of Snowy 2.0 compared to storage from batteries.

Snowy 2.0 Compared with Batteries

Capacity Snowy 2.0 can store  350,000 MWh - this is as much as 35 million batteries (10kwh)
 Cost It would cost more than $200 billion in domestic batteries to produce the equivalent storage of Snowy 2.0
 Output/Dispatch Snowy 2.0 can run for more than a week, domestic batteries typically only last for a few hours
Longevity Snowy 2.0 will last for generations while a typical domestic battery needs to be replaced in around 10 years.

While this type of expansion was part of the original Scheme design, it was not constructed in the 1960s as the business case didn't add up (in the past there was very little intermittent and variable renewable energy). In coming years there will be an increasing need for large-scale storage options and that’s why Snowy Hydro has invested in the Snowy 2.0 feasibility study.