Will the Snowy Hydro scheme expansion actually happen?

The expansion of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric scheme could power the equivalent of 500,000 homes and meet demand in peak periods across the eastern states, Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. on Thursday.

"In one hour it could produce 20 times the 100MW per hour expected from the battery proposed by the South Australian government, but would deliver it constantly for nearly a week, or 350,000 MWh over seven days", Turnbull said.

The unprecedented expansion will help make renewables reliable, filling in holes caused by intermittent supply and generator outages.

Turnbull reiterated the government is making energy storage a priority to ensure reliable power.

Malcolm Turnbull will unveil the scheme's current 4100 megawatt capacity will be increased by around 50 percent, the Sydney Morning Herald reports, and will take four years.

Snowy Hydro managing director and CEO Paul Broad said the expansion plan could deliver a clean-energy solution to the critical security and supply issues in the NEM while helping in reducing power prices for consumers and businesses.

Turnbull said his government will start working on the plan, the Snowy Mountains Scheme 2.0, and will be examining several sites within the scheme with the potential to support large-scale pumped hydro storage.

The proposed plan would involve a new series of tunnels and power stations to better utilise the existing Snowy Hydro infrastructure, rather than buid new dams.

Snowy Hydro already provides back-up power to New South Wales and Victoria and when expanded could also serve South Australia, Turnbull said.

A feasibility study is due for completion by the end of 2017 and the government will wait for the result before fully committing to the project.

  • Leroy Wright