(...) The move – which is subject to a feasibility study by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, and funding agreements from Snowy Hydro’s three government owners (Federal, NSW, and Victoria) – could be the most significant intervention in Australia’s energy markets in half a century.
By promoting pumped hydro, Turnbull is effectively signing the death knell for any new coal or gas fired generation built by the private sector, and is paving the way for a 100 per cent renewable energy grid, driven mostly by wind and solar.
It also makes a reported and belated push for nuclear energy from members of his Coalition entirely redundant, because it would remove the need to rely on “baseload” generation over the medium to long term.
Assuming this does go ahead at the scale advertised, the conversation around energy delivery will now shift from “baseload” to flexibility, and gas and coal will no longer be able to compete, on either cost or utility, over the medium to long term.
By adding pumped hydro, and distributed battery storage (in homes, buildings and in EVs), Australia can reach a 100% renewable energy target, possibly within a few decades.
The ANU’s Andrew Blakers, who last month released an analysis that showed Australia could reach 100 per cent renewable energy with solar, wind and pumped hydro, at a cost of around $75/MWh – cheaper than current wholesale prices – describes the move as a game changer.