Quoting Michael Bloch writing for Solar Quotes (link below):
"The Snowy 2.0 project will increase generation capacity by up to 2,000 megawatts and provide approximately 350,000 megawatt hours of energy storage when at full capacity. To be situated around halfway between Melbourne and Sydney, Snowy 2.0 would link Tantangara and Talbingo Reservoirs via approximately 27 kilometres of tunnels. A hydro power station is to be constructed at the middle point between the reservoirs, built almost 1 kilometre underground."The big question is, is it the best option, or would a number of smaller schemes, perhaps some of them in the Snowy Mountains, perhaps elsewhere, be better?
Why Snowy 2?
The concept of connecting two of the major Snowy Mountain reservoirs with a pumped hydro scheme has been discussed for a decade or more.
For example, a
piece written by retired engineer Peter Lang about the economics of a 9 GW scheme (much bigger than the proposed Snowy 2's 2 GW) connecting Tantangara Reservoir with Blowering Reservoir was written in 2010.
This would have the advantage over Snowy 2 of about 200 m more altitude difference than the Tantangara/Talbingo connection of Snowy 2, but the huge disadvantage of needing a 53 km tunnel, twice that of Snowy 2.
|Estimated cost||$4,500 million||$300-$400 million|
|Maximum power||2,000 MW||250 MW|
|Maximum stored energy||350,000 MWh||2,000 MWh|
|Maximum operating time at full power||175 hours||8 hours|
|Round trip efficiency||67% at 2000 MW and 76% at 1000 MW||79.4%|
|Length of tunnels||27 km||Less than 400 metres|
|Start-up time||30 minutes?||Less than 30 seconds|
|Hours of operation per year||87 (generating?) at full power|
Unknown time at less than full power
|2990 pumping, 2920 generating|
|Annual generation||(Minimum of) 174 GWh||657 GWh|
|Cost per MWh||$460 (also see note below)||$12|
Notes on the table
Economic viability of a pumped hydro developmentThe economic viability of any development at all depends on its income in relation to its operating costs and capital cost.
The annual gross income from a pumped hydro development is the income for each pumping-generation cycle multiplied by the number of pumping-generation cycles in a year. The income from a pumping-generation cycle depends on:
Summary, Snowy 2 versus KidstonThe key factor in this analysis is the stated 87 hours of operation at full power annually of Snowy 2, stated in Snowy Hydro's summary of the feasibility study; there seems to be no information in that study about expected operation at less than full power. At 87 hours per year, 1% of the time, this seems amazingly low; by comparison, Genex Power the operators of Kidson propose doing two pumping-generation cycles each day, perhaps generating 33% of the time.
From the above admittedly naïve comparison Snowy 2 has a cost ten times that of Kidston, but may generate less power! If this is credible how could Snowy 2 possibly be justified, especially when Kidston is only one of very many probably comparable pumped hydro developments around Australia?
Of course the scale of Snowy 2 means that the time required for construction, and the potential for cost blowouts, will be much greater than for smaller projects such as Kidston.
|Initial information has just become available from Tasmania and has been reported on the ABC. 14 possible sites have been identified with a total potential power of 4,800 MW; the more important figure, the amount of energy that could be stored (MWh) was not stated.|
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Elsewhere on the Internet...Snowy 2.0 – Is the reward worth the risk?; Paul Hyslop writing for RenewEconomy, 2018/11/13.
Australian National University group under Andrew Blakers identified 180 sites in South Australia, 5000 sites in Queensland, Tasmania, the Canberra district and near Alice Springs and 22,000 sites around Australia, all in mid 2017. They estimated that 400 ha of water storage would be required for SA to reach 100% renewable power; water top-up requirements were estimated to be less than 1% of SA's extraction from the Murray River.
PHES for SA ASAP; Pumped hydro energy storage for South Australia as soon as possible –s on Facebook
Bendigo Advertiser, 2018/03/21; Pumped hydro using Benidgo's mine shafts could push solar, wind capacity of region.
Energy Storage Association: Pumped Hydroelectric Storage
Is South Australia taking the lead in pumped hydro in Australia with the government announcing investments in four projects in February 2018? For more information see Energy Source and Distribution News, 2018/02/09.
Wikipedia: Pumped storage hydroelectricity
Pumped hydro using seawater in SAEnergy Australia: Consortium assessing pumped hydro storage plant in South Australia (using sea water)
Renew Economy: South Australia leads again as saltwater pumped hydro storage takes shape; By Simon Holmes a Court; 2017/09/29