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The Perils of Cost Blowouts: Snowy Hydro 2.0 and the Quest for Reasonable Decision-Making

The alarmingly increasing cost of major energy projects begs the question: are our governments truly making informed decisions or plunging us into the abyss of financial irresponsibility? The case in point: Snowy Hydro 2.0, a project once hailed as a $2 billion gem, is now spiraling into an estimated $10 billion venture, raising skepticism about the management of large-scale endeavors.


Malcolm Turnbull's Snowy Hydro 2.0 initiative, born in 2017, was touted as a relatively modest $2 billion undertaking. By the close of 2017, this budget ballooned to a speculated $4.5 billion. As April 2019 rolled around, the cost surged to $5.1 billion, and today, the numbers hover around a staggering $10 billion. And this financial fiasco isn't exclusively the result of Florence the drilling machine; it exposes a deeper issue in the project's conception and oversight.


The concept behind Snowy 2.0 is straightforward: construct a vast battery in the Snowy Mountains to bolster renewable energy resources for Australia's east coast. During off-peak hours, electricity pumps water uphill, and during high demand periods, the stored water flows downhill to generate renewable energy.


Yet, beneath this apparent simplicity lurks a complex labyrinth of 27 km of tunnels, an intricate power station, transmission infrastructure, and the need for engineers, resources, time, and money. Even assuming the best conditions, the project is far from efficient; a substantial amount of energy is wasted in pumping water uphill.


This ordeal offers a lesson in the importance of transparency. Taxpayers are left in the dark about the economic justification behind this taxpayer-funded venture, even as its budget rockets. Secrecy, lack of accountability, and cost escalation overshadow a project that's vital to our energy future.


The Snowy Hydro 2.0 debacle should serve as a cautionary tale for other mega-projects, including Queensland's Pioneer-Burdekin Pumped Hydro endeavor. As we witness costs soaring exponentially in Snowy Hydro 2.0 – a project far less intricate than the Burdekin project – one must ponder the wisdom of forging ahead without due diligence. It's a stark reminder that financial prudence should outweigh political ambitions, ensuring a sustainable future for both our energy and economy.


For an insightful and in-depth analysis of the cost overruns plaguing major energy projects, including Snowy Hydro 2.0, refer to Rex Patrick's article titled "Snow Job – Snowy Hydro 2.0 in a fathomless crevasse of costs" available at https://michaelwest.com.au/snow-job-snowy-hydro-2-0-in-a-fathomless-crevasse-of-costs/. This eye-opening read sheds light on the hidden complexities and financial challenges associated with such ambitious undertakings.

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