Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has added weight to his commitment to the $2 billion Snowy Hydro 2.0 expansion, with a funding announcement of $8 million in Cooma yesterday.
The money comes from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, and will chip into the $29 million bill for the project’s feasibility study, which is already underway.
According to Snowy Hydro Environment Manager Charlie Litchfield, there is currently drilling in eight locations between the Talbingo and Tantangara Reservoirs.
“We’re drilling where the inlet will be – understanding what the geology of the inlet will be, we’re drilling in the middle where the cavern will be, and we’re drilling where the outlet will be,” he said.
“Then we’re drilling at about half a dozen sites between them, just getting a really good understanding of the rock, from 40 – 50 metres down to almost 1000 metres down.”
Three hundred and fifty people have been employed to work on the feasibility study, Snowy Hydro said, and the project will eventually generate 5000 jobs during its construction phase. Once it is built, however, it will mostly be automated.
In a video about the feasibility study, Malcolm Turnbull reiterated his support for the project, which is a headline infrastructure plan for his Prime Ministership. Over scenic shots of Talbingo and the Tumut 3 Power Station, Mr Turnbull explained the importance of the project to Australia’s changing energy market.
“Snowy Hydro is the biggest battery ever built in Australia,” he said.
“It will make renewables reliable. The sun doesn’t shine all the time and the wind doesn’t blow all the time. So how do you provide that dispatchable base load power? You have to have storage.
“Basically what you do with pumped hydro is that when electricity is cheap, in the middle of the night, when the windmills are turning away and nobody is buying that electricity, then you use that electricity to pump water up the hill: up into the high dam. Then, when people need electricity and demand is at a higher level, you run it down the hill through the turbine and generate electricity.
“This is a massive opportunity.”