It was with great gusto and fanfare that our previously ineffectual Prime Minister announced his game-changing solution for energy security in Australia.
We will have, in a year or two…..drum roll please….a feasibility study!
Don’t get me wrong – when you are messing with river flows and drilling into mountains, a feasibility study is a good idea.
The thing I don’t understand is how you can announce the cost, the employment it will provide, the power it will generate, and a completion date, before you have even started the study.
The Victorian government, who are part owners of the Snowy Hydro scheme, only heard about the idea in the media – the Telegraph knew about it before they did. And the NSW government, who are the majority shareholders, got a phone call the day before the announcement.
Frontier Economics managing director Danny Price said “At this stage I would regard the Snowy proposal as a ‘thought bubble’. It’s not a quick fix. The problem we face now is immediate.”
Turnbull and Frydenberg would have us believe the project will be finished in four years.
Dr Mark Diesendorf of the University of NSW said he thought the project would take at least 10 years because they would have to tunnel through the Great Dividing Range and also build new transmission lines to handle the higher electricity capacity, which actually takes longer than building a new power station.
Dr Roger Dargaville of the Melbourne Energy Institute said pumped hydro needed the right mix of water and geography to make it work.
“It’s not cheap to do … and by most accounts the potential of the Snowy Hydro has already been tapped,” he said.
ARENA have been asked to do the feasibility study. That’s the same ARENA that Tony Abbott tried to abolish and that Morrison’s Omnibus Bill proposed cutting $1.3 billion in funding from. They succeeded in cutting $500 million, leaving them with $800 million over the next five years to fund renewable research, development and innovation.
Call me overly cautious, but I wouldn’t be making announcements and promises before the study is even begun. Batteries could be a whole lot cheaper and definitely quicker option.
Call me overly cynical, but I wonder if this announcement would have been made if Jay Weatherill hadn’t gotten the ball rolling by taking control and action in SA.
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