Snowy Hydro Corporatisation Amendment (Snowy 2.0) Bill 2018

21st November 2018

Mr GREG PIPER (Lake Macquarie) (11:01): I am surprised that there are not more speakers in debate on the Snowy Hydro Corporatisation Amendment (Snowy 2.0) Bill 2018 which will result in a significant project for the people of New South Wales and anybody connected to the national grid. I support the bill because it will enable Snowy Hydro to lease land that would be required if and when Snowy Hydro 2.0 gains the necessary approvals. The project will result in substantial benefits for the people of New South Wales by delivering good, clean energy and by complementing and adding to the effectiveness of other renewable energy sources, most notably wind and solar power. The original Snowy Mountains hydro-electricity scheme was a nation-building project. I expect that its expansion will do the same for a new generation. This significant project will assist in a gradual transition to cleaner energy production.

I do not intend to repeat much of what has already been stated about the Snowy Hydro in the second reading debate but I will refer briefly to the effectiveness of hydro-electricity and how it stacks up against other forms of energy production. Make no mistake, I am in favour of cleaner energy production but as things stands we currently rely on coal-fired power stations to provide more than 81 per cent of our electricity needs in New South Wales. Lake Macquarie is home to Australia's largest coal-fired power station. Eraring Power Station has four turbines each of which generate 730 megawatts of dispatchable power a day—that is 2,920 megawatts each day, or about 20 per cent of the State's peak electricity demand.

The extra capacity of Snowy 2.0 will provide about 2,000 megawatts of energy to the national energy market, making it the third largest individual generator behind Eraring and Bayswater in the Hunter Valley. It is extremely important to securing the State's energy supply and no doubt it will be for the foreseeable future. Just down the road from Eraring is the Vales Point Power Station where Delta recently announced it would build a $114 million solar farm over 80 hectares of its land. While I applaud this investment, it will generate 55 megawatts of energy which shows starkly the significant area of land that is required to be occupied, and subsequently sterilised from other beneficial uses, by large-scale solar farms. By their very nature, photovoltaic systems have limited time in which to produce energy. Their efficiency will be maximised only when affordable complementary storage is available. That is what Snowy Hydro 2.0 does.

The examples that I have mentioned sum up where we are. While I embrace the shift to clean energy, including rooftop solar photovoltaic systems, we are yet to find or adequately deploy the technology to bank solar power. However, pumped hydro can do this and it can provide cheap dispatchable power. Hydro-electricity systems have the ability to provide reliable, clean energy with effective demand management under most circumstances. That is what Snowy Hydro has done for many years and will be able to do with even greater capacity and reliability when integrated with other renewable energy production technologies that deliver a massive energy store through pumped hydro.

I acknowledge former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for adopting the vision of those who understand the engineering and the complexities of this project. One such person was Paul Broad, Chief Executive Officer [CEO] of Snowy Hydro. I have known Paul for many years. I believe he was previously the CEO of Infrastructure NSW. He certainly has a big picture idea of what is needed. This is an important transition away from our reliance on fossil fuels and wind and photovoltaic energy systems will greatly benefit from the ability to bank energy in this way. In today'sSydney Morning Herald is an article about the impact of pollution from coal-burning power stations. Eraring Power Station is obviously one of the major targets. We are talking about particulate matters and other emissions such as nitrous oxide, sulphur dioxide and PM2.5—matters that clearly concern the community and that create health risks for people in our communities.

Air sheds in these areas convey pollutants from the Hunter Valley along the coast and into the Sydney metropolitan area at a huge cost to the coal industry and to coal-fired power stations. We must embrace technology and be ready to respond to what industry produces. Given the right regulatory environment, industry will surprise us with what it comes up with. The provisions in this legislation, which were proposed by industry, will go a long way towards improving energy reliability and producing clean and safe energy for many years to come. This bill contains provisions to free up the Government to deal with necessary leaseholds but it will also have widespread implications. I commend the bill to the House.

Website: Read full Parliamentary debate

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