Snowy 2.0 claims don’t ‘stack up’

The National Parks Association of NSW today released a comprehensive research paper that found all of the claimed benefits of the Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro storage project to be overstated or false.

In releasing the Paper, the Executive Officer of NPA, Gary Dunnett, stated that “for the past 3 years since the March 2017 announcement of Snowy 2.0 there has been a steady stream of alarming information revealing from every angle that Snowy 2.0 just doesn’t stack up.”

For example, it is claimed that “Snowy 2.0 provides low emission energy”.
“But Snowy 2.0 will incur 50 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from its construction and first 10 years of operation – hardly providing ‘low emission energy’” Mr Dunnett said.

He added “even when Snowy 2.0 only pumps with renewable energy it will always lose 40% of the energy stored – far greater than other storage options.  Simply, 100 units in, only 60 units out”.
Another claim is that “Snowy 2.0 is ideally located between Sydney and Melbourne”.

“Snowy 2.0 is actually in the worst possible location, requiring major transmission upgrades, incurring far greater network losses than other storage and is vulnerable to transmission outages and constraints, as evidenced during the recent bushfires.  The best location for storage is at a load centre, not 500 kilometres away” Mr Dunnett said.

Further, Snowy Hydro and the Commonwealth Government have claimed “Snowy 2.0 will reduce electricity prices”. Mr Dunnett countered that “a report issued by Snowy Hydro shows that prices will increase, not decrease, as a result of Snowy 2.0”.

 “Snowy 2.0 should not have been contemplated in the first place, due to its substantial, permanent environmental damage to Kosciuszko National Park.”

“There are many viable alternatives for energy storage, including other pumped hydro sites, batteries, demand response etc – but Snowy 2.0 is the most environmentally destructive, polluting, inefficient and expensive.  And Snowy 2.0 runs counter to the trend away from large power stations towards a decentralised National Electricity Market of multiple generation sources and storages, particularly at consumer premises.”

“The fact that Snowy 2.0 has been approved, contracts awarded ($5.1 billion) and construction commenced well before the environmental impacts have been assessed defies belief and the law of the land” Mr Dunnett said.  “And this is even more reprehensible as the project will substantially and permanently damage Kosciuszko – one of Australia’s iconic and unique natural places”.

“The Commonwealth Shareholding Ministers should revoke the approval of the Business Case on the grounds of inadequate estimation of the costs and projected returns of the project to the Australian public.  And the NSW Minister for Planning should refuse approval of the EIS on the grounds of inconsistency between the enormous scale and diminished benefits of the project against the National Park status of the development site” Mr Dunnett said.

“It is now manifestly clear that Snowy 2.0 is not as it has been portrayed.  It is time to pause and undertake a comprehensive review by independent experts, something that is standard practice for $multi-billion projects, particularly for a Government Corporation where it is the Australian community that bears the risks.”

“It would be tragic if Snowy 2.0 was constructed on the premise of claims that were never tested and later proven to be false.  At stake are $billions of taxpayers’ money, tens of millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and thousands of hectares of Kosciuszko National Park” Mr Dunnett concluded.


Media Contacts: Gary Dunnett, Executive Officer National Parks Association of NSW 9299 0000
Ted Woodley, Hon Treasurer National Parks Association of NSW and former energy executive 9299 0000

Key Findings of the Paper
Snowy 2.0 will:

  • lose 40% of the energy it stores – more inefficient than other pumped hydro schemes and other energy storage options.  It will lose 4 times more energy than batteries.
  • be a coal-powered storage well into the 2030’s, not a renewable energy storage
  • incur 50 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions during construction and its first decade of operation (applying Snowy Hydro’s pumping forecasts).  By contrast, storage at renewable generator sites incurs zero GHG emissions
  • be almost idle until 2029 according to the latest AEMO forecasts
  • be in the worst location, requiring major transmission upgrades, incurring far greater network losses than other storage and be exposed to transmission constraints, as evidenced during the recent bushfires
  • run against the trend of a decentralised National Electricity Market
  • rarely have the claimed 350 GWh of storage capacity; and take 3+ months to recharge from empty
  • push electricity prices up, not down (according to Snowy Hydro’s own report)
  • be uneconomic, costing far more than $3.8 – $4.5bn (updated from the original $2bn estimate).  A $5.1bn contract for part of the works has been awarded
  • have market benefits less than half its cost
  • leave a legacy of permanent damage over 10,000 ha of Kosciuszko National Park, including:
  • 14 million mof excavated spoil, some contaminated with naturally occurring asbestos and potentially-acid-forming rock, with two-thirds to be dumped in Snowy reservoirs
  • four high voltage transmission circuits on twin towers with a 120 m easement for 10 kms through the Park
  • over 100 kms of new or widened roads and tracks
  • depressed water tables and stream flows above sections of the tunnel
  • destruction of 1,000 ha of habitat for 14 threatened species
  • spread of pest fish and diseases throughout the Snowy Scheme and downstream rivers, devastating alpine fishing; extinction of the stocky galaxias species
  • infrastructure and landscape scars across 30km of the alps

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