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"Snowy 2.0"

Legal challenge against Snowy 2.0 ?

The proposal to build Snowy Hydro 2.0 to strengthen capacity for energy storage seemed like a good idea at first. But as the details of the project emerged, especially the likely direct physical footprint of the project, more and more people and groups started to oppose it. (Background stories on the issue are available here).

After the release of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) the NSW National Parks Association said that the plan ‘proposes a completely unacceptable level of damage to Kosciusko National Park’.

However the federal government continues to pursue the proposal.

In response, it has been announced that the National Parks Association of NSW and ex-Energy Australia chair Ted Woodley are considering a legal challenge to the project, which they say will push back the transition to renewable energy and destroy thousands of hectares of national park.

Continue reading “Legal challenge against Snowy 2.0 ?”

Snowy 2.0 just doesn’t stack up

Earlier this year, it was announced that the next stage of the Snowy Hydro 2.0 expansion had been given the green light, with approval for construction of the project’s ‘Segment Factory’.

Work has now started on the facility: Snowy Hydro has already started clearing native bushland for the construction site at Lobs Hole in the heart of Kosciuszko National Park. The image above (from the NSW NPA) shows work at the Lobs Hole site.

The following is a summary from the NSW National Parks association about why they oppose the Snowy 2.0 development.

Continue reading “Snowy 2.0 just doesn’t stack up”

Approval of Snowy 2.0 EIS sets ‘appalling precedent’

The Snowy Hydro 2.0 expansion started as a good idea. As the scale of the physical impact of the project became more obvious during the approvals process, environmental groups started to oppose it. After the release of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) the NSW National Parks Association said that the plan ‘proposes a completely unacceptable level of damage to Kosciusko National Park’.

It has now received planning approval from the NSW state government, despite ongoing objections over the project’s environmental impacts.

Continue reading “Approval of Snowy 2.0 EIS sets ‘appalling precedent’”

Energy experts call for halt to Snowy 2.0

Back in 2017, the Federal Government announced a feasibility study into the possible expansion to the Snowy Hydro Scheme in the Snowy Mountains of NSW.  It was billed as being a circuit breaker in the ongoing impass in the ‘fossil fuels vs renewables’ energy debate because it would be renewable energy that will provide baseload capacity. The project would greatly enhance the pumped hydro capacity of the existing hydro scheme, meaning that water can be used multiple times to produce electricity.

While some environmentalists gave in principle support to the project, many wanted to see the details on what the physical environmental impacts of the project would be. In 2019, the NSW government released the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) into the project. This showed the level of physical impact of the project. The National Parks Association of NSW said in response that the EIS ‘proposes a completely unacceptable level of damage to Kosciusko National Park’. It has been expected that the project will soon receive approval for its EIS from the NSW government.

Now a group of thirty Australian energy experts have called for a halt to the hydro scheme.

Continue reading “Energy experts call for halt to Snowy 2.0”

Snowy 2.0 will be ‘Environmental Vandalism’

The NSW government has now released the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Snowy 2.0 hydro project.

At the core of the Snowy Hydro 2.0 expansion will be the establishment of a new underground tunnel linking the Tantangara and Talbingo reservoirs and the commissioning of a new underground power station that will operate as Australia’s largest pumped hydro energy storage system.

The main works for the Snowy 2.0 project will include the removal of an estimated 9 million cubic meters of excavated rock. The federal government owned Snowy Hydro has proposed that more than half of this excavated material be relocated within either the Talbingo or Tantangara reservoirs, with the remaining material used to establish permanent structures, or for land forming.

While the prospect of a renewed Snowy Hydro scheme, operating as the ‘battery’ for the eastern seaboard, has appeal from a climate angle, it has not – until now – been clear what the physical footprint of the project might be. The EIS outlines the likely direct impacts of the works that would be required under the scheme. The National Parks Association of NSW (NPA) says that the EIS ‘proposes a completely unacceptable level of damage to Kosciusko National Park’.

Continue reading “Snowy 2.0 will be ‘Environmental Vandalism’”

Snowy 2.0 hydro project to avoid environmental scrutiny?

It is being reported that the Snowy 2.0 Hydro project has been given ‘critical’ status for NSW, fast-tracking its development, amid concerns it may skirt environmental obligations.

The ‘critical’ status means the project no longer has to go through as rigorous a planning process and will only require the sign-off of the NSW Minister for Planning, Anthony Roberts. However, there will still be some environmental and community impact investigations.

Continue reading “Snowy 2.0 hydro project to avoid environmental scrutiny?”

Major cost blow out in Snowy Hydro 2.0 scheme

The proposal to build Snowy Hydro 2.0 to strengthen capacity for energy storage seemed like a good idea at first. But as the details of the project emerged, especially the likely direct physical footprint of the project, more and more people and groups started to oppose it. (Background stories on the issue are available here).

After the release of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) the NSW National Parks Association said that the plan ‘proposes a completely unacceptable level of damage to Kosciusko National Park’.

However the federal government continues to pursue the proposal. The project received all approvals and is now being constructed.

Now it has emerged that there has been a significant cost blow out in the project, related to one of the major transmission links that is key to deliver its storage services to the rest of the grid.

A new report suggests different that different grid routes could be considered to either save costs, or increase benefits, including a new connection point that will reduce the environment impact on the national park.

Continue reading “Major cost blow out in Snowy Hydro 2.0 scheme”

Work starts on Snowy Hydro 2.0 ‘Segment Factory’

Back in 2017, the Federal Government announced a feasibility study into the possible expansion to the Snowy Hydro Scheme in the Snowy Mountains of NSW (‘Snowy Hydro 2.0’).  It was billed as being a circuit breaker in the ‘fossil fuels vs renewables’ energy debate because it would be renewable energy that will provide baseload capacity. The project would greatly enhance the pumped hydro capacity of the existing hydro scheme, meaning that water can be used multiple times to produce electricity.

While some environmentalists gave in principle support to the project, many wanted to see the details on what the physical environmental impacts of the project would be. Since then, as the environmental impacts of the project became more obvious, the movement became increasingly opposed.

Recently, a group of energy experts called on the state and federal governments to stop work on the Snowy Hydro 2.0 project.

It has also been reported that the next stage of the Snowy Hydro 2.0 expansion has been given the green light, with approval for construction of the project’s ‘Segment Factory’.

Work has now started on the facility: Snowy Hydro has already started clearing native bushland for the construction site at Lobs Hole in the heart of Kosciuszko National Park.

The NSW National Parks Association says ‘This is just the beginning. Snowy 2.0 will permanently destroy 1000’s of hectares of Kosciuszko, and dump 20 million tonnes of contaminated tunnel spoil, the equivalent of covering Sydney Harbour Bridge and its surrounds’.

The NSW Minister Planning, Rob Stokes, and NSW Minister for the Environment and Energy Matt Kean is expected to make their final decision on approvals for the project ‘any day’.

Check here for additional information on the project from the NSW National Parks Association (NSW NPA).

Take Action

The NSW NPA is asking people to send a letter to the NSW government urging them to not sign off on final environmental approvals.

 

 

 

Snowy Hydro 2.0 gets approval for factory

Just a week or so after a group of energy experts called on the state and federal governments to stop work on the Snowy Hydro 2.0 project, it has been reported that the next stage of the Snowy Hydro 2.0 expansion has been given the green light, with approval for construction of the project’s ‘Segment Factory’.

Continue reading “Snowy Hydro 2.0 gets approval for factory”

What are the environmental costs of Snowy Hydro 2.0?

What are the environmental costs of Snowy Hydro 2.0?

Australia is still (sadly) stuck in a culture war over whether climate change is real. While the majority of Australians accept the fact, a significant number of political leaders are using their position to block meaningful action. This has immobilised any forward movement on developing a coherent national energy policy. If anything, the standoff between the conservatives and climate deniers on the one hand, who support more coal and gas, invoking the catch cry of energy security and reliability of supply, and those who heed climate science and understand the need to transition rapidly to renewable energy, is getting worse.

Thankfully technology is intervening to change the dynamics of the argument. The rapid development of storage technology is clearly a game changer when it comes to considering what is possible in terms of powering our nation. Domestic and commercial scale batteries and electric cars are two obvious points where the debate is changing. So is the prospect of pumped storage hydroelectricity, where a two way system is developed so water can be run through a hydro system to produce electricity, and retained below the point of generation, then pumped back up into the storage point (usually a dam) when electricity is very cheap.

As the federal government grapples with pumped hydro storage options it is becoming ever clearer that there are many places where such schemes could be established (It is estimated that there are more than 22,000 suitable locations right around Australia). But there are also plans to re-purpose the Snowy Mountains Hydro Scheme to be able to re-use water by creating a second pipeline system to pump water back into the storages. This is being referred to as Snowy Hydro 2.0.

On face value this seems to be a sensible option for getting more clean energy production out of the existing infrastructure. However there are obvious and very considerable environmental issues that need to be considered before the upgrade proceeds. The initial feasibility study (which is still underway) has already identified the major question of what to do with the spoil from the massive drilling operation that would be required to make the project viable. It will need 27 kilometres of tunnels, which may be up to 12.5 metes wide, and from the report below, it is clear that, at this point, the authorities have no idea where they would dump all the rock waste that would come from drilling the tunnels. It should go without saying that the Snowy scheme is within the Snowy Mountains National Park and so the waste will need to be taken outside the park.

Continue reading “What are the environmental costs of Snowy Hydro 2.0?”

The Snowy Hydro Scheme 2.0

The Federal Government’s announcement of a feasibility study into the expansion to the Snowy Hydro Scheme in NSW could potentially break the current impass in the fossil fuels vs renewables energy debate.

Pumped hydro represents stored energy, which can be created through the use of renewables. It is a ‘game changer’ in that it can, in effect, provide baseload power for when renewable energy supplies like wind and solar need back up. This will be done through what is called Pumped Hydro.

Continue reading “The Snowy Hydro Scheme 2.0”

Snowy Hydro seeks ‘fast-tracked environmental approval for pilot works’

We have previously reported that it appeared that Snowy Hydro 2 was seeking to avoid full scrutiny about the likely environmental impacts of the proposal to convert the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme into a pumped hydro system.

While the concept itself is an excellent one in that it will provide a huge ‘battery’ of hydro power for the eastern seaboard, it is essential the work be done in a way that minimises impacts on the environment of the Snowy Mountains. (Check here for a summary of possible impacts of the current proposal).

Recent news reports seem to confirm fears that Snowy Hydro is trying to ‘cut corners’ on the approvals process in order to fast track the development.

Continue reading “Snowy Hydro seeks ‘fast-tracked environmental approval for pilot works’”

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