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No, ScoMo, you can’t have Snowy 2.0 and coal-fired power too.

“What we are talking about here is reliable, renewable, energy,” gurgles a pumped PM, Tuesday. He stands in the same spot as Turnbull, before ScoMo deposed him; the same huge penstock steel pipes arch back behind him like some gigantic, shamanic, horned headdress. The pose gives pause for thought. As does ScoMo’s pivot; his sudden switch from bearer of the black rock in parliament to ScoMo of Snowy 2.0, a study of calculation in concrete brutalism.

In an incredible back-flip, Faux-Mo re-invents his carbon-emitting, coal-powered government as climate and environmental custodians. Snowy 2.0 is the site of Turnbull’s nation-building pet project. Is his an act of homage, or usurpation? Yet it could be a lemon. Neither the Coalition, nor its wholly owned Snowy Hydro, will reveal any financial models. Giles Parkinson notes that there’s a fair bit of red tape to clear, not to mention environmental issues to resolve.

No financial modelling? No worries. Whether nation-building with your ego or your energy policy, it’s the vibe that matters. And the mix. A “technologically neutral” ScoMo-government may green-wash itself overnight but it’s careful to leave black or brown coal-fired power generation still in the energy mix. It prolongs the hoax that coal and wind and solar can somehow co-exist, whatever the market is saying about the need to invest in renewables to make a profit.

Naturally a few false prophets must be ignored. The Australian‘s Chris Kenny is all for a nuclear option, safe, cheap; a boon, environmentally, as Fukushima and Chernobyl attest, with only a few drawbacks including toxicity, short life-span, long build time and prohibitive price as demand for electricity diminishes. Nuclear is so yesterday. As for green, any saving in daily running cost is offset by a large environmental debit incurred in the massive concrete construction.

But is our new ScoMo Coalition with clean, green, pumped snowy hydro 2.0 fair-dinkum? Giles Parkinson drily notes,

“…a government that “scrapped the carbon price, tried to kill the renewable energy target, defenestrated the Climate Change Authority and tried to scrap the Clean Energy Finance Corp and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency appears to be taking note that climate focused independents are posing a real threat to incumbent MPs.”

Is it green? Will our unreliable, coal-fired clunkers such as Liddell be taken off life support? (Liddell’s expected life-span was 25 years, when built in 1973.) Will filthy, new, polluting smoke stacks rise phoenix-like from the ashes, as the Coalition honours Matt Canavan’s recent pledge to fund ten new coal-fired power plants? Funding? Banks won’t touch them. China doesn’t love us any more and the Russians have already been well-tapped by Trump.

Government funding is promised to those keen to build new coal-fired power projects – but is it legal? In a startling new piece of legal advice from barristers Fiona McLeod SC and Lindy Barrett, The Australia Institute reports McLeod and Barrett argue that the government will need parliament’s approval before it can underwrite any new coal fired plant.

The only existing authority for such appropriation of funds is the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, a body set up to encourage investment in energy-efficient; low energy or low emission technology. Coal or gas projects are excluded.

The barristers hazard that “Energy Minister Angus Taylor is in such a rush to funnel taxpayer funds to new coal fired power stations before the election, he seems to have overlooked that he has no constitutional authority to do so.”

Assistance for new coal fired power projects, it is argued, will require “some form of supporting legislation”, reports Katharine Murphy, either new or existing, to operate and fund the program, otherwise the arrangements would be open to a high court challenge. Certainly, Energy Minister Angus Taylor is coy about new build details.

Taylor, is tight-lipped on ABC Insiders, Sunday. Incredibly, after six years in government and with an election in May, he acts as if he is being put on the spot by a key question on major policy. Perhaps he is. Has no-one done the research?

“I’m the energy minister, I am not going to commit to a number here and now.” An evasive Taylor sees fit to use the Westminster code of ministerial responsibility to parliament to weasel out of a simple question in the national interest.

Instead, Trump-like, the Energy Minister spins a web of lies. He risks ridicule in pretending that the Coalition is reducing its carbon emissions. The government’s own figures show a five-year increase. (Emission rose again when, then PM, Abbott “axed the carbon tax: a lie which even former Chief of Staff Peta Credlin now admits was untrue – “just brutal retail politics” – by which she means ruthless, self-serving, pragmatism. Any means to win an election is OK.)

Yet Taylor’s cool with coal and pumped hydro competing. Has he read Tassie’s Project Marinus’ feasibility study? It’s clear from the project brief that the interlink will be economically viable only if coal is taken out of the mix – and soon.

“… when approximately 7,000MW of the national electricity market’s present coal-fired generation capacity retires”,

Pouncing, like a terrier, on the word “competition”, the topic of his M.Phil from Oxford where, like Abbott, he was a Rhodes Scholar, Taylor offers a touching non-sequitur, “You put your finger on it – we want more competition, Barrie.” Perhaps coal can compete with pumped hydro in the parallel universe of the coal lobby shill or the Kelly “ginger group”.

Taylor has ScoMo’s biggest lie off pat. “We will reach our Paris targets in a canter.” The Coalition knows that with repetition the lie will become orthodoxy – as has the false narrative that our energy policy is a failure because “both sides” have been bickering, a point repeatedly made by Coalition MPs and their supporters on mainstream media, including the ABC’s The Drum and Q&A. No. It’s a Coalition wedded to its coal sponsors causing the damage.

There are no reputable scientists or economists who believe we will meet our Paris target to reduce our emissions by 26%, based on 2005 levels, by 2030 in a canter. Now the talk is of carry-over credits.

The question has Taylor talking about The Kyoto agreement to Australia fudging its figures; being allowed a credit for land-clearing and forestry in article 3.7 of the Kyoto Protocol, known but not fondly, as The Australian Clause and inserted at the behest of Senator Robert Hill. In brief, we chose 1990, a year when land-clearing had been high as our base, thus giving the impression of progress even if we did nothing. The Coalition’s attitude remains unchanged.

We did not do nothing. The Hawke government introduced policies to restrict land-clearing and established Landcare. When Kyoto was officially ratified in 2008, under Rudd, Australia was able to claim “emissions from Land-use, Land-use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) had fallen by over 80 million tonnes CO2-e … an almost 15 per cent reduction in Australia’s emissions – enough to offset the significant growth in emissions from electricity generation over the same period, which had added 82 million tonnes CO2-e by 2009.”

Because we will beat our 2020 Kyoto targets by 240 million tonnes of CO2, the Morrison government will carry these forward against our 2030 Paris pledge, if other countries are weak enough to allow this. The 26 to 28 per cent target effectively turns into a 15 per cent cut on 2005 levels.

It seems like sharp practice – and in terms of our real contribution to curbing global warming it is a shamefully weak effort, yet our environment minister, “Invisible” Melissa Price, says “it’s a great result for the environment and for the economy”, helping prosecute the fallacy that curbing emissions acts as a break on prosperity, a myth so widely and frequently circulated that it is Coalition and mainstream media orthodoxy.

Bill Hare, director of Perth-based global consultancy Climate Analytics, says there’s no chance we can meet our target without new policies. Most other experts agree. Yet the Coalition is a policy-free zone, especially around energy.

Barrie tries to chat about rats leaving the sinking Coalition ship. Ten faux-green bottles no longer hanging on the wall. More to accidentally fall? Taylor recycles ScoMo’s spin that while the faces may change, the policies remain “focused”. Yet coal is in now out of-focus while hydro gets a spin. And since Taylor’s debut in August, energy is an enigma. Even Frydenberg didn’t try to ride two horses at once. You can’t burn coal and pump hydro. It’s one or the other.

Unless it’s for show. This week the Coalition puts another $1.6bn into the kitty for Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro. Invests $56m in interconnector 2.0, or the Marinus link to make little Tassie a powerhouse; “the battery of the nation”.

Marinus will carry power not only from pumped hydro, moreover, it will be able to conduct electricity from wind-power projects in the pipeline. But it won’t be economic; it can’t pay its way unless coal-fired power generation is retired. The costs of the poles and wires are extra. These, ScoMo generously makes clear, are to be borne by the relevant states.

For Tassie’s Marinus 2 project to work, however, its feasibility report says its necessary or our nation to get out of coal-fired power generation. Fast. 2020 is suggested. Yet Angus Taylor suggests there may be ten coal-fired plants which the government may subsidise. Again, it’s impossible to have an each-way bet. Giles Parkinson sums up: Snowy 2.0 and the Tasmanian scheme only make economic and financial sense if coal-fired power production ceases.

“There is no place in the schemes if coal-fired generators remain.”

That’s entirely at odds with Coalition policy. This includes a type of state aid to Trevor St Baker, the billionaire who bought Vales Point from the NSW government for a song – and poised to set up some new ones; a white knight of the black rock and a Liberal Party donor just battling to make a quid by keeping old stations such as Liddell running well past their use-by date. No wonder the government is releasing no feasibility study. What they propose is impossible.

At base, however, Snowy 2.0’s just another show. “Getting on with the job”, as Showboat ScoMo pitches his cynical faux humility. Typically, “the job” entails the hard slog of deception, disinformation and spin but the old stager knows no sort of performance can distract from the reality that at least ten of his Coalition crew are madly stampeding for the exits.

“Jobs for the boys” are what we are in fact talking about, as Labor’s Penny Wong never tires of reminding us.

Wait, there’s more good news. “A record seven women in cabinet”, boasts Nine news. ScoMo boldly overpromotes rookie WA Senator Linda Reynolds straight from assistant Minister for Home Affairs, to Minister for Defence Industry.

“When you can call up a brigadier, in the form of Linda Reynolds, to take on the role of defence minister, it shows we have a lot of talent on our bench to draw from” Morrison lies. It does show the Liberals’ fetish for militarism. Above all, it rewards Reynolds for quickly abandoning her complaints of bullying in the Liberal Party.

“As a soldier I believe you go through a chain of command and you do things internally,” she says. Her cryptic comment may make sense to a part-time army reservist on a weekend camp but how is this Liberal individualism? Of far more concern, is how the potential Minister of Defence would respond to whistle-blowers.

Alarmingly, Reynolds repeats Morrison’s myth that voters have no interest in the internal workings of the party – a nonsense given the party’s commitment to transparency – and given the ways our choices of candidate and party are justly informed by insights into party culture – or as Kelly O’Dwyer put it, ways votes are lost by a popular perception that the Liberal party is a mob of “homophobic, anti-women, climate-change deniers”.

ScoMo promises to make Reynolds Defence Minister after Christopher Pyne tidies up his sock drawer and ties up a few other loose ends such as our $79 billion submarine contract. Can he get the boats built in Australia by Australians – preferably in his own state, if not his own electorate? How will we provide crews? A lot for the Fixer to work through.

Reynolds is also – gasp – a woman and a Brigadier in the Army Reserve – irrefutable proof of the Liberals’ egalitarian democracy, despite only nineteen MPs being women. And a reservist Brigadier will instantly win over any full-time ADF member. Yet the PM fails to cut a dash given the splash as rats desert HMAS Chum-bucket his sinking submarine.

The week in politics sees the federal Coalition frantically green-wash its cred – even recycling the direct action scam, a monster magic soil boondoggle only Hunt could flog, as it struggles to “get on with the job” as ScoMo puts it.

Everyone else lost interest long ago. Or they’re jumping overboard or already off-grid, as a weary nation battles fair-dinkum fatigue, a torpor not even Snowy Hydro 2.0, a Sisyphean marvel now bigger than ANZAC, Phar Lap and Kokoda put together can shift.

“It’s absolutely fair-dinkum power. It doesn’t get more fair dinkum than this,” gurgles ScoMo, who transforms, this week, into state socialist as he widens the sluice-gate of government funding on a project which has already cost a mozza; $6 billion for the Commonwealth just to buy out NSW and Victorian states’ investments.

This week’s capital transfusion transforms Malcom Turnbull’s pipe-dream into a Ponzi scheme. Snowy 2.0 will pump water uphill when power is cheap and let it rush downhill again when the price is right driving whirling turbines to produce top dollar power which cannot but help drive up power bills.

“We don’t need Morrison’s money”, carps Snowy Hydro CEO, Paul Broad, to News Corp, rejecting the Coalition’s sudden, unbidden injection of $1.4 billion part of a largesse which includes glad-handing $440 million to The Great Barrier Reef Foundation, a sign that the outfit may be struggling to stay afloat; struggling to make its numbers add up.

Pumped hydro schemes are generally not profitable, reports Giles Parkinson. Last year, data from the Australian Energy Market shows that existing pumped hydro schemes made almost no money from this activity. In the last quarter, they actually lost money and over the previous four quarters made virtually no money. Paul Broad is less expansive.

“The government decided the way it wanted to balance out the funding. It wanted to sustain dividends,” Broad says. “It wanted to support the project with equity. These things are part of negotiations that go on. We never asked for it. We never asked for anything.” Keeping financial modelling secret only fuels suspicion that Pacific Hydro’s in trouble already.

Our PM quickly whips up a succession of other phantasmagorical stunts, this week, ranging from Monday’s Climate Solutions fund to spruik the ERF’s resurrection, an Abbott scam for channelling funding to Big Agriculture and even Big Coal amongst other worthy Liberal donors and supporters. It would cost $200 bn to use it to reach our Paris targets.

In other words, it’s “a recipe for fiscal recklessness on a grand scale and a fig leaf to cover its determination to do nothing”, as Malcolm Turnbull proclaimed of Abbott’s ERF plan prior to the 2013 election.

An emission-abating nation gasps as “showboat” ScoMo simultaneously flogs a dead horse, puts lipstick on a pig and executes a reverse pork barrel dive with pike all in free-fall off Mount Kosciuszko in the Snowy Mountains region.

“Magic-soil” Morrison rebadges Abbott’s quick and dirty emissions reduction fund (ERF) boondoggle as a $2bn Climate Solutions Fund (CSF) whilst slashing its annual budget from $510 million to $200 million. Sheer genius.

It’s half of the funding Abbott committed in the 2013 election campaign. The Kiwis are right. ScoMo’s a phenomenon; a force of nature; a cunning stunt and not a one trick pony after all.

If there’s less pork to fork, what’s left is spread more widely; farmers, whose fingers are already worked to the bone filling in drought-relief forms can now apply for a CSF handout to “drought-proof” their farms, whatever that means, or just do a bit of re-vegetation. Businesses get handouts for “energy efficient projects” and not just planting for trees they would have planted anyway. Given that ERF farmers are agri-businesses, also, a double dip may well be possible.

The Wilderness Society calls on the invisible Environment Minister Melissa Price, former to review the channelling of funds into paying farmers to protect native vegetation after Queensland satellite data suggested recipients of such money were clearing other parts of their land. What could possibly go wrong?

“Our analysis shows that 13,317 hectares of forest and bushland clearing has occurred across 19 properties in the same year or years subsequent to winning ERF contracts for funding under vegetation methodologies,” Glenn Walker, climate campaign manager for the group, says in a letter to Minister Price.

Not to be outdone, Home Affairs Super-Minister, one trick pony, Peter Dutton doctors up his fear campaign Thursday, with another populist dog-whistle from Dutts Unplugged, a long-running White Australia revival tour.

“People who need medical services are going to be displaced from those services, because if you bring hundreds and hundreds of people from Nauru and Manus down to our country, they are going to go into the health network,” Uncle Dutts tells a fawning of loyal reporters in Brisbane. Doctors respond that the claim is nonsense.

Oddly, not a word of support is heard from anyone, not even Craig and the rest of the Kelly gang, a sect whose job it is to invite climate-change deniers to parliament to mislead policy-makers and to hold Morrison to ransom on energy, a kindness paid forward by the PM and his federal energy minister, Angus Taylor in dictating to the states.

Nobody’s talking. It’s an “announceable” – not a discussion topic. Flanking his PM in the photo opportunity, is Angus, “Squizzy” Taylor, our federal energy enforcer. Was he in witness protection since his rout late last December’s COAG meeting? Then he refused NSW energy minister, Don Harwin’s call for a new national zero emissions policy?

“Industry is spooked by poor policy”, Harwin holds; a circuit-breaker is needed. Squizzy shoots him down. Out of order.

December’s COAG meeting does not even hear NSW’s point of view. Taylor tells Harwin to zip it, citing procedural grounds. Vetoes discussion. “It got ugly very quickly. It was a full-on revolt”, a source tells Fairfax, now Nine Newspapers.

Happily Craig Kelly’s not worried. “I know how [Taylor’s] mind works”, he explains to Guardian Australia’s Katharine Murphy. Murphy wisely leaves this alone. On Sky, Taylor won’t divulge how many Coalition coal projects are planned but Matt Canavan blabs that the government is looking at including ten in the underwriting scheme. Someone needs to talk to Canavan but only after voters are sold on the wave of jobs that will flow from so many new automated hell-holes and black-lung health hazards.

But it’s not Handbrake Kelly’s backbench committee to abort any change in energy or environment that Morrison really needs to win over. Nor is it the cabal of climate deniers Buzzfeed dubbed “The Dirty Dozen”, in 2016. Still in parliament, at least until May, are Tony Abbott, Eric Abetz, Craig Kelly, Zed Seselja, Peter Dutton, Barnaby Joyce and George Christensen. Senator Linda Reynolds must surely get a Dirty Dozen supporter lapel pin for disinformation,

“Remember when the coalition repealed the carbon tax? It led to the largest fall of electricity prices on record,” she lies.

ScoMo’s Snowy Hydro 2.0 reboot is a bid to woo Kooyong, Warringah, Wentworth, Higgins and Tasmanians who’ll be pumped to be included, even if they’ll have to pay for the bits to make the interlink link anywhere. Knit their own cables.

The media narrative that both major parties’ squabble threaten the development of a sound energy policy is a myth invented by those reactionaries and others who call themselves conservative parties. Conservative?

The lack of progress towards renewable energy is no fault of partisan politics or any 24-hour news cycle, but an outcome actively planned and funded by key stake-holders whose institutes, associations and think tanks enjoy remarkably success – if you can count the win of the mining lobby, (just for example), as a win and not an irretrievable, egregious loss in terms of global warming, environmental vandalism and humanity.

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  1. Florence Howarth

    Any rise in electricity under Gillard’s CEF we were well & truly compensated for.

  2. Andreas Bimba

    What a quagmire of stupidity and greed from this ridiculous federal Coalition government. The economics are now in favour of renewable energy and storage such as pumped hydro and batteries such that industry wants to transition away from fossil fuels including even gas and to do this rapidly. Government just needs to get out of the way and not prevent progress by subsidising more coal fired power stations which would be truly insane environmentally and economically.

    Australia could be 100% renewables by 2032 at current rate of wind and solar installs

    Government must however set up the required legislative framework, coordinate the various interests and ideally facilitate the connecting power transmission interconnectors needed. Assisting with the provision of key components such as Snowy 2.0 is also vitally important and detailed design and construction must begin ASAP.

    A wise federal government would also realise that a significant portion of all the hardware, systems and building materials needed for the transition to a fully renewable electricity generation sector and for an environmentally sustainable economy in general could and should be manufactured locally in a cost efficient way. Currently our electricity sector is very fragmented after so many foolish privatisations and many new players will enter the market. The most likely occurrence if nothing is done is that each of these system builders will source from the cheapest providers currently available which usually means foreign suppliers. This will represent an enormous lost opportunity for Australia as there is such a large volume of orders in the pipeline that local manufacturers could be established to cost effectively provide most of the needed hardware, systems and materials and also to take advantage of export opportunities as the whole world follows a similar path. Now is the time to get this all moving in an optimal way and when foreign suppliers are still building capacity so as to meet their rapidly increasing local demands and will be short of excess capacity.

    The Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government has been the worst in Australia’s history in terms of economic management, environmental recklessness, destruction of industrial capacity, wastage of human and financial capital, social equity and fairness, observance of democratic principles, competence, honesty and ethics.

    A Bill Shorten Labor government promises to be an improvement on the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government, it may fall short of expectations in some areas such as fiscal policy, full employment policy, industrial and trade policy but compared to the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison period of mismanagement it will be as different as night and day.

    The Labor Party has always been better at nation building and with meeting major challenges than the greed dominated conservatives. For example the WW2 mobilisation, the post-war transition and build-up of industry, the social transformation of the early 1970’s and the GFC. Let them be at the helm for our greatest challenge yet – the transition to environmental sustainability and the harnessing of our national human and financial resources to bring this about in the most economically and socially effective way possible. This is our Green New Deal.

  3. Rhonda

    Oh David, it’s exhausting reading. I thank you for your tireless efforts in holding this shit show to account

  4. Grumpy Geezer

    Am i missing something or is this yet another deceit from the shifty Lib grifters –

    It takes more power to pump the water uphill than is generated from it then flowing downhill.
    So there is a net loss of power.
    If the power for pumping the water uphill is generated from coal-fired power stations then there is no gain in clean energy generation.
    If the hydropower is a substitute for coal-fired power to consumers then it makes more sense to just use the coal-fired power straight to consumers.
    Pumped hydro only makes sense if the power required for pumping is generated from solar, wind, tidal or other green energy sources.
    With a changing climate will there be less snow melt to fill the dams and the cycle just repeats?

    Someone please point out if my logic is faulty.

  5. Bronte ALLAN

    What a great, albeit rather long article David! Bloody explains the complete sham this inept, lying, flat earth, climate-change denying, obscenely over-paid so-called “liberal/country party” rabble really are! And they keep on telling even more lies, untruths & porkies, all the while maintaing their “holier than thou” attitude, & of course, just how “bad” ALL things will be under a Labor government! BASTARDS, the lot of them! And still,it seems, far too many idiots believe everything these dickheads spout. Cannot wait to see this bloody mob kicked out in May. Hopefully, that is for sure.

  6. New England Cocky

    The question is “Why is the Snowy Scheme being developed to Snowy 2.0 localising power production away from the metropolitan centres where it is required, or are the line losses of 10-50% between source and users simply an expense for users to carry?”

    Far better to dig out the Burdekin River Scheme (BRS) for North Queensland that was abandoned at the completion of the Snowy Scheme building phase in the mid 60s, and so provide construction jobs and associated opportunities in the coal producing areas while phasing out coal production.

    The BRS “did a Snowy” and turns the high volume Burdekin River through the Great Dividing Range to the Coopers Basin that ultimately flowed into Lake Eyre.

    If Queensland is the state where the 2019 election is won or lost, I would have thought such a long term employment public infrastructure project would have been a big winner with the many unskilled voters in Queensland electorates.

    Oh silly me!!!! Canberra politicians consider crossing the border into Queensland a step back in time (about a century … that fits with Liarbral Party policies) with the risk of falling of the edge of the flat earth and being eaten by flying dragons ….. which must be why so many people are migrating to Queensland.

  7. Andreas Bimba

    Snowy 2.0 definitely makes more sense with a fully renewable electricity generation system and could then use excess generating capacity (that would otherwise be switched off as it would exceed demand) for most of the pumping phase. Snowy 2.0 should have a conversion efficiency of 70% and the interconnectors should be sufficiently large that overall efficiency is 50 to 60%. Batteries should have higher efficiencies but pumped hydro should have lower capital and through life costs than batteries and are currently the cheaper option per MW-hour stored.

    Snowy 2.0 also has the major advantage of using existing reservoirs for the upper and lower storage. The same water is continually recycled and should be unaffected by drought.

    Even with coal fired power in the system the percentage of variable renewable power is increasing even under the dysfunctional LNP as the states, industry and consumers are all adding renewable energy generation capacity. This requires methods of electrical energy storage to be added to the system to ensure supply when renewable sources or increasingly old and unreliable coal fired power can’t deliver and to maintain stability.

    The Burdekin River Scheme would require an apolitical feasibility study.

  8. New England Cocky

    @ Grumpy Geezer: Uhm … the principle of stored hydro is based on the necessity to keep the generating turbines moving at all times. Yes, it will likely take more power per unit of water to pump up hill, but when this is done between 2200 hours and 0600 hours it means about 50% of the water used in the remaining 16 hours of the day is recovered for future generating use.

    The alternative is turning turbines creating power during a no demand period 2200 to 0600 hours. The turbines cannot be stopped for the technical reasons and restarting them, moving from stop, is a long operation and infeasible each night during the no demand period.

    The net gain from pumped hydro comes with the re-use of water. First there is a positive CO2 saving generation on the first cascade through the turbines. There is a “cost” of pumping up during the no demand period. Then there is a second positive CO2 saving generation of the second cascade through the turbines, and so on until a particular unit of water is mathematically exhausted.

    This was the original proposal for the Styx River hydro station that NSW politicians in Sydney corrupted to become the Oaky Hydro Scheme east of Armidale NSW in the early 60s.

    Perhaps you are missing the coal point, especially the unseen “So in which University is the Faculty of Coal Research searching out alternative solutions for extracting the myriad of coal by-products required by our modern society?”

  9. Andreas Bimba

    One nitpick. Pumped hydro systems in either pumping or turbine mode can be shut off or started quite quickly. Bigger ones take a bit longer than smaller ones however to get going or stop. When I toured one of the Snowy Mountains Scheme power stations I was told each turbine/generator could go from stationary to full power in 15sec. The dual action Snowy 2.0 turbine/pumps will no doubt be considerably larger so as a guestimate 30sec may be close.

    This compares to coal fired power station boilers that can take 4 to 8 hrs from a warm start and at least double that from a cold start to get to max output, which would be the case after maintenance on the boiler.

  10. Andreas Bimba

    The efficiency figures I gave earlier are electrical efficiency. No water is lost apart from a little evaporation from the reservoirs as pumped hydro reuses the same water.

    If the overall efficiency is 60% including transmission losses then 60 MWhours is available (at the consumer) when you need it for every 100 MWhours generated and then used for the pumping phase which ideally should use excess renewably produced electrical energy.

    Excess renewable energy means generating capacity from renewable energy sources that would otherwise have been switched off as it would have been in excess of the total power demand on the electricity supply system.

    Clear as porridge?

  11. Grumpy Geezer

    Andreas Bimba, New England Cocky,

    Cheers for the considered responses. Not quite as opaque as porridge Andreas but i had to read each of the replies twice. And slowly.

    The issue of coal by-products adds more complexity to the equation. Good on ya!

    While i am fully aware i was being simplistic – is there a simple Yes/No to the issue of whether pumped hydro (specifically Snowy2) reduces carbon emissions if all pumping power is sourced from coal-fired generators?

  12. Kaye Lee


    It would not reduce emissions if powered by coal. It might reduce prices by covering high demand times or improve reliability when coal plants are off-line as they are so often in hot weather. But the whole point of it should be to be storage for renewable energy.

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