Why do we need Snowy 2.0

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

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

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

When it comes to capacity, cost, location and longevity, there is no other technology or storage option that comes close to Snowy 2.0. Snowy 2.0 is strategically and centrally 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 will store about 350 000 megawatt hours of energy - this is enough to power three million homes for more than a week.

While other forms of storage (such as household batteries and open cycle gas generation) 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 as lot of coal and 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 invested in the Snowy 2.0 feasibility study.