Michelle Grattan writes in The Conversation (16.3.17) about Malcolm Turnbull's announcement that the federal government plans to greatly expand the Snowy Hydro project, increasing its electricity generation and storage capacity.
'In its latest move on energy policy, the Turnbull government has unveiled a plan to boost generation from the Snowy Hydro scheme by 50%.
'The government says the expansion, which it has labelled the Snowy Mountains Scheme 2.0, would add 2,000 megawatts of renewable energy to the National Electricity Market. This would be enough to power 500,000 homes.
'Claiming the upgrading would be an “electricity game-changer”, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that in one hour it would be able to produce 20 times the 100 megawatt-hours expected from the battery proposed this week by the South Australian government, but would deliver it constantly for almost a week.
'... Tony Wood, energy program director at the Grattan Institute, cautioned that the plan would involve technical and economic issues, including whether it could make money, and to what extent it could contribute to solving the short-term power crisis.
'“This isn’t some sort of magic panacea,” Wood told the ABC. Some hard-headed thinking was needed on what it would do and how it would work.'
Snowy hydro scheme will be left high and dry unless we look after the mountains
Adrienne Nicotra and colleagues write in The Conversation (23.3.17) that a reliable water supply from Australia's mountain catchments, such as that in the Snowy Mountains scheme, depends on intact and functioning ecosystems.
'Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s plan for a A$2 billion upgrade and expansion of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme, announced last week, will be an impressive engineering achievement. Snowy Hydro 2.0 will increase the scheme’s capacity by 50%.
'Meeting this extra capacity will depend entirely on the natural water supply available in the Snowy Mountains. But the current environmental conditions of these mountains, and the Australian Alps where they are located, are compromising both water delivery and water quality.
'The only way to maintain water flow is to control the threats that are actively degrading the high country catchments. These include introduced animals, wetland loss, and climate change.'