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Snowy Hydro swaps coal for renewables

Published by , Assistant Editor
World Coal,

This month, Australian electricity generation company Snowy Hydro Ltd, which owns and maintains the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme, opted to swap coal for wind and solar power to support its pumped hydro storage generators. The energy company reportedly signed eight wind and solar contracts, totalling approximately 880 MW of peak power and around 2.8 TWh of energy a year, that is expected to provide cheaper electricity to 500 000 households from 2020.

As part of the deal with investors such as BP and Macquarie Bank, Snowy Hydro’s pumped storage is to now be powered by four solar farms and four wind farms in New South Wales and Victoria.

“This agreement will put significant pressure on wholesale electricity prices which will lead to downward pressure on retail – household – energy prices,” Snowy Hydro Chief Executive Paul Broad said.

Previously, Snowy Hydro used energy from the grid, typically coal or gas, to pump the water.

According to one source, as Snowy Hydro will no longer rely on the 2800 MWH of energy needed annually for pumping, it frees up energy to be returned to the grid, putting the equivalent of half a coal-fired power plant back in the system.

Broad added that this agreement will make electricity cheaper as renewable power generation takes advantage of excess renewable energy that is available when demand is slower, for example wind power is at its highest in the early morning, and solar power peaks in the middle of the day. This method then stores this excess energy for later during higher demand periods.

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