Snowy Hydro goes activist, lobbies for renewables to boost profits, beat enemy “Coal”

Spot the vested interest

The biggest competitor for hydro in Australia is cheap old coal power. Surprise me, Snowy Hydro jumped into the national energy debate a few days ago on behalf of taxpayers themselves.

With Turnbull offering five-billion-dollar gravy to build an unnecessary hydro storage battery, it is no surprise to hear Snowy Hydro pretending that Australia needs more intermittent unreliables.  The more solar and wind rock the system, the more Big-Hydro is needed to stabilize the boat. The big question is why hardly any journalists or politicians seem able to spot the obvious vested interest:

Ben Packham, The Australian:

The government-owned company building Malcolm Turnbull’s Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro project has added fuel to the energy wars by declaring wind and solar are clearly cheaper options than coal.

And if you owned Hydro stocks, you’d say that too. Coal is every generators enemy for a reason. It’s cheaper than they are.

See the tiny numbers above the columns in this graph? Those are actual settlement prices — tiny wholesale bargain sales of coal fired electrons at 1c per kilowatt hour.

Coal generated electricity prices, brown coal, graph.

Source: AER report on the closure of Hazelwood

Hydro can only fantasize about supplying electricity that cheaply. In the same AER report the Murray Hydro settlement prices were $44 – $122 per MW/h.

At least a few people in politics can spot the obvious:

The Coalition’s pro-coal faction questioned the claim, saying Snowy 2.0’s business model depended on the shift away from coal-fired power.

Why are the only sensible people called the “pro-coal” faction as if they are organized by the industry? They are the anti-stupid-waste faction. Their comment was spot on. Without renewables, there’s no reason for Snowy 2.0.

No one mention the cheapest source of electricity by far — old coal stations at $30/MWh

Snowy Hydro said its modelling showed the cost of wind power was $70-$80/MWh, and the cost of solar power was $77-$99/MWh, including price premiums for ­energy storage. It said new power from new high-efficiency low-emissions coal generators cost $78-$120/MWh.

See the word “new”? What goes unsaid is the price of old coal. The government owned company lies by omission.

Who does Snowy Hydro serve — not the taxpayers who own it.

“Regardless of views on climate policy or the future energy mix, what’s clear is the cost of building wind and solar — even with a price premium added for ‘firming’ capacity — is cheaper than new coal generation,” the company said in a document outlining the economic case for Snowy 2.0.

The cost of “storage” and frequency stability was zero in our old pre-renewables grid. The new hydro battery scheme costing $5,000 million is entirely a renewable energy charge. Wind and solar drive up the price of everything around them. When will we start adding that cost to the estimates of adding new solar and wind power?

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May 23, 2018 at 10:39AM

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