2 March, 2018

Use Snowy Hydro sale funds to unlock the massive clean-energy potential of regional NSW

The $4.15 billion sale of NSW’s share of Snowy Hydro gives the Berejiklian government a unique opportunity to unlock the $25 billion clean energy potential of regional NSW.

Our research shows that just four regions in NSW have the potential to replace the state’s five-coal-burning power stations with clean energy,” said Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski.

“All that is missing is the political leadership and strategic investment to make the transformation happen.

“NSW is the only government in eastern Australia without a plan to clean up our electricity system and slash our carbon emissions. The sale of Snowy Hydro adds new impetus to address that shortcoming.

"The Berejiklian government should act on the current energy crisis by reinvesting the $4.15 billion windfall in clean energy infrastructure, which will bring jobs to regional NSW, put downward pressure on prices and reduce our contribution to climate change.”

The Nature Conservation Council’s report titled Repowering our Regions found four regions with outstanding wind and solar resources could supply 70 per cent of the state’s electricity needs through large-scale wind and solar farms, and rooftop solar.  

Those regions are Western NSW, New England (including the Northwest), the Central West, and the South East. The other 30 per cent would be supplied by rooftop solar in other parts of the state.

“The transition from coal and gas to solar, wind and storage will attract $25 billion of investment, the construction of about 2,500 wind turbines and installation of more 42 million solar panels across the state,” Ms Smolski said.

“It’s a big job but making the NSW electricity system 100% renewable is 100% doable. The only thing missing is strong political leadership.”

Further development of Snowy Hydro within the highly sensitive Kosciusko National Park would require road upgrades, new transmission lines, surge tanks, tunnels, a generator cavern, and disposal of spoil, which all could have significant environment impacts.

“The proposed infrastructure would be completely within the Koscuiszko National Park - a place of unique natural values,” warned Ms Smolski.

“Given the environmental sensitivity of this area, construction of tunnels, power lines, and a power station would inevitably affect irreplaceable natural landscapes and threatened species.

“For that reason, we urge the Federal Government to invest in pumped hyrdro sites in less environmentally sensitive areas.”

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Climate and energy

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