With a capacity of about 3,800MW, the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme currently comprises 16 dams, seven power stations, one pumping station, 145km of tunnels and pipelines and 80km of aqueducts.

The scheme produces about 67% of all renewable energy for the National Electricity Market (NEM).

The latest 2GW expansion of the hydro power scheme is expected to generate clean electricity required to power 500,000 homes and meet demand in peak periods in the eastern.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said: “The unprecedented expansion will help make renewables reliable, filling in holes caused by intermittent supply and generator outages. It will enable greater energy efficiency and help stabilize electricity supply into the future.”

As part of this plan, the government, through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), will initially assess several sites with potential to support large scale pumped hydroelectric energy storage. 

These sites include new tunnels and power stations, connecting existing storages.

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.

Arena CEO Ivor Frischknecht said “Pumped hydro is economically viable right now and supports our grids by providing long term energy storage capacity that’s available on demand.”

A feasibility study for the project is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year with construction planned soon after.

Image: The Tumut 3 generating station of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme in Australia. Photo: courtesy of      Cmh at English Wikipedia.