8 thoughts on “8 Disasters to Prepare For In 2018”

  1. Not a disaster on a world-scale, but very amusing:

    the earlier thread on Snowy2.0 as a dog prompted a puff piece in The Aus on January 10 from a Paul Broad, CEO Snowy Hydro (page 10 of the edition I saw).

    Indignant he was, arm-waving he was, weasel-worded he was (eg. Snowy2.0 was canned in the 1960’s because of growth in base load supply … unstated is now base load is being destroyed, allowing growth in very expensive dogs). Accountability he did not volunteer for.

    Especially amusing for me was his highly defensive paragraph on the obvious engineering geology risks that are not as yet even vaguely quantified. He’s hiring the “very best people in the world”, no less. Yep, that’ll tame the geology, bring it into line … he’ll show it. With tax-supplied OPM, costs are a 6th rate concern.

    You see, these people actually monitor various sceptical websites. They are way too weaselly to admit this but need puff pieces for an uninformed mass audience to combat it. The Aus is pro-Waffle so it will publish this pablum.

  2. I might check my local library for the Oz 10Jan – Re the geology – I thought I saw somewhere the GS of NSW are working on the geology. Can’t find a ref though.

  3. The geology is the cost-controlling factor. Some months ago when Waffle did a TV promo together with Broad somewhere in the Tumut region (I think), Broad commented on TV that “it all depended on the geology”. Waffle was unimpressed with that caveat (the look on his face was sufficient) so the switch has been turned to optimism, Pollyanna-style.

    Snowy2.0 needs very high retail power prices to look like breaking even. This is why we haven’t been offered a costed business plan, much like the ALP’s initial version of the NBN.

    My guess is that the geoscience sections of the feasibility report were released on the shallow assumption that no one would read or understand them. It was meant to impress the uninformed lumpenproleteriat; that this was not so was singularly unpleasant for them. Costs and time are at high risk for Snowy2.0 because of the complexity of the engineering geology, as yet only vaguely understood. (Perhaps I’ve been involved in stuff like this before. This is no critique of the engineering geoscientists).

  4. Opinion piece in The Australian 10Jan18 by Paul Broad MD and CEO of Snowy Hydro seems to be a reply to critics of Snowy 2.0. – googling the headline can help penetrate the paywall
    Snowy 2.0 is well-placed to fill gaps in the energy market
    www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/snowy-20-is-wellplaced-to-fill-gaps-in-the-energy-market/news-story/d95ad780dfb28126bee47fa21f778bfe
    The National Electricity Market has long been an outstanding example of Australia’s micro-economic reform. It brought much needed competition to an industry once dominated by inefficient state-run enterprises.

    Snowy Hydro has been at the heart of this market, with volatility being the key driver of value for our business.

    Our unique portfolio of fast-start generation assets and large storages allows us to generate at times of peak demand, provide cap contracts insuring retailers against price volatility, and “time-shift” surplus, low-price energy to high-price-demand periods. We also underpin system security through synchronous generation and ancillary services.

    Snowy 2.0 is an expansion of what we already do. It is not new or unique. The concept of expanding our pumped storage capability has been around since the 1960s. The growth of baseload power negated its viability, but the economics are changing rapidly.

    As intermittent renewables grow, the market will experience greater volatility and uncertainty. The Australian Energy Market Operator confirms this trend as we move to a lower emissions future.

    Snowy Hydro has witnessed this first hand, with increased demand for cap contracts in recent times. As it’s often said, when the wind doesn’t blow or sun doesn’t shine, how you fill those gaps forms the cornerstone of a secure, reliable and affordable NEM. In fact, filling in gaps has always been a key role of Snowy Hydro. As renewables increase, the need for our services will increase exponentially.

    All independent analyses show that large-scale storage is paramount to a lower emissions future. Snowy 2.0 will deliver 350,000MWh of storage to consumers at lowest cost. In fact, the project’s economics blow the alternatives out of the water. If Snowy 2.0 wasn’t built, the alternative would be a combination of batteries and open-cycle gas plants, costing at least twice as much and resulting in higher prices for consumers.

    Some commentators have mistakenly sought to model Snowy 2.0 on today’s NEM, rather than the NEM we see coming. The future NEM, dominated by renewables, will require significant flexible peaking generation and storage. Snowy 2.0 will come on line from 2024 at precisely the right time to fill the gaps and stabilise the market.

    Snowy Hydro is already the leading provider of cap contracts. Increased market volatility, together with Snowy 2.0’s unrivalled storage capability, will allow us to expand our product offerings. These include insurance “floors” and “collars” (providing price certainty for wind and solar) and seasonal “energy exchange” products. This will enhance long-term energy security.

    Snowy Hydro’s ability to provide ancillary services, critical for system security, will also increase to meet the demands of the future NEM.

    As for claims that the economics don’t stack up — I refute them categorically. Snowy 2.0 can be funded off our balance sheet, while delivering a healthy internal rate of return of 8 per cent.

    While, historically, we have not often used our pumping capability, we’re progressively pumping more and will be at capacity when Snowy 2.0 comes on line. In fact, our analysis shows that future storage demand will surpass Snowy 2.0’s capacity from 2031, when we can again deliver by expanding the scheme, using the same reservoirs as Snowy 2.0, to benefit future generations.

    The scale, complexity and challenging geology of Snowy 2.0 requires a significant investment. Like any major infrastructure project, it is not without risk. To mitigate these risks, we have hand-picked a team of world experts as partners on the feasibility study and beyond as we finalise the project’s precise technical requirements.

    Finally, to suggest Snowy Hydro isn’t paying for transmission is misleading. The capital costs for Snowy 2.0 provide for the cost of the project’s transmission connection — that is, the lines connecting our assets to the wider shared network. The shared transmission network is common infrastructure used by all generators, with Snowy Hydro being only one and, in fact, the most infrequent user today, given we only generate at peak times.

    The transmission network was built decades ago around coal, and the ideal zones for renewables are not in the same locations. The shared network needs a major upgrade to cater for renewables growth as new projects — again one of which is Snowy 2.0 — come on line. The suggestion that Snowy Hydro pay for the entirety of these upgrades is misplaced.

    At Snowy Hydro, our financial track record speaks for itself. We conduct rigorous forensic analysis of all investment opportunities and apply stringent hurdles to ensure the best outcomes for our shareholders. Our independent board exercises the highest levels of scrutiny in assessing investment decisions.

    Our feasibility study demonstrated the sound economics of Snowy 2.0. As we move towards a final investment decision late this year, our discipline will not waver. Our shareholders, and the energy industry, would expect nothing less.

    Paul Broad is managing director and chief executive of Snowy Hydro.

  5. I’d say Mr Broad is doing a good job of peddling his shtick.

    Of course, to get the full picture, you have to parse his words carefully, particularly these:

    “The concept of expanding our pumped storage capability has been around since the 1960s. The growth of baseload power negated its viability, but the economics are changing rapidly….
    As renewables increase, the need for our services will increase exponentially…If Snowy 2.0 wasn’t built, the alternative would be a combination of batteries and open-cycle gas plants, costing at least twice as much and resulting in higher prices for consumers…Some commentators have mistakenly sought to model Snowy 2.0 on today’s NEM, rather than the NEM we see coming. The future NEM, dominated by renewables, will require significant flexible peaking generation and storage.”

    It’s all quite obvious if you read carefully. Snowy 2.0 is a dog that has been around for half a century. It’s possible but very difficult (cf. “mitigating the risks” of the geology), and would be out of the question on economic grounds except for the disastrous introduction of renewables.

    What Mr Broad is offering is a wooden foot to someone who is shooting his foot off. He says it’s better than nothing, and better than other wooden feet on the market. He may be right, but why shoot in the first place?

  6. OT but I think of interest on this site. Significant fire in the Mundaring Weir catchment WA. Link: www.emergency.wa.gov.au/#

    I would predict a much greater inflow particularly next winter, but inflow from creeks will increase within a few days as evapotranspiration by trees and understorey reduce to possibly less than 10%. I wonder if we will hear about this in the MSM.

    As Warwick has repeatedly said, the biggest problem with water supply in WA urban and near urban areas is management.

  7. Pumped storage hydro is viable when you have very cheap surplus power at times of low demand. Basically overnight nuclear.

    It should be a fairly simple financial calculation to determine viability. Price of power out – cost of power in x megawatts.

    All the rest is hand waving.

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