Snowy 2.0 could be completed by 2025, according to Snowy Hydro, if the economics and engineering unfold as anticipated. That is, provided Snowy Hydro’s sole shareholder — the Commonwealth — gives it the green light.
Both the Coalition and Labor are enthusiastic, but non-committal, until the exploratory works have been completed. The restraint stems not only from the possible engineering challenges, but also the uncertainties around the future of the energy market. Rows and rows of white boxes line underneath windmills.
Another uncertainty is ever-evolving technology of batteries. Currently, batteries such as the ‘Tesla big battery’ in South Australia can fill the gap between supply and demand for hours, but not days. Snowy Hydro estimates Tantangara could hold enough water to power 3 million households for a week. But if batteries become more efficient and have a longer lifespan, it could change the equation for pumped hydro schemes in the future.
At the moment, Snowy 2.0 meets the needs of an electricity market marching ahead with renewable energy. Its main booster in Malcolm Turnbull has departed, but Snowy 2.0 may survive the fractious political debate over energy because no-one who remains vociferously objects to it — and in today’s political climate that may be the ultimate endorsement for Snowy 2.0.