Snowy 2.0, doomed from the start — after the sinkhole came the poison gas, “worst major project in history”

By Jo Nova

It’s just emblematic of your Clean Green Future

Complexity and false hope is eating the crown of Australia’s Net Zero transition — the Snowy 2.0 Pumped Hydro scheme. Things have gone from “debacle” to Soviet Grade Industrial Fiasco. After Florence-the-tunnel-borer got stuck and created a sinkhole, workers spent seven months trying to shore up the ground, playing God against the mountain — pumping in grout, cement and polyurethane foam. But the foam made a gas so toxic the tunnel had to be evacuated. To make things worse the workers were originally told the gas was water vapor but it turned out to be isocyanate. At every point the Snowy Hydro team hid the bad news and issued propaganda, and it’s only taken the ABC a year to tell us the workers predicted the sinkhole, and three months to investigate the safety breach.

Still, that’s better than the NSW regulator who knows all the other safety breaches but won’t even share them, because it’s so bad ” it may affect the contractor’s reputation.” (Which it surely just did anyway.)

This is your low-carbon future. It was supposed to cost $2 billion but the bill is $12 billion. It was supposed to be finished, but it’s barely begun. Florence the tunnel borer was meant to have dug a 15km long hole through the mountain, but it’s only bored through 150 meters. It did about a weeks worth of progress before being stuck for 19 months.

They knew at the start things were doomed, but did it anyway. Workers drilled ahead and hit soft ground only 100m from the opening. Water gushed out, proving there would be mass mud within. But they filled the hole and went ahead anyway. They were supposed to have a slurry system in place, to cope with the mud, but it wasn’t there. In just 8 weeks the borer was predictably bogged — wallowing in up to 4 feet of water. Drowning perhaps in fantasies of building a sacred weather talisman.

Do normal industrial projects, given normal scrutiny, go so wrong, for so long?

A sinkhole, toxic gas and the $2 billion mistake behind Snowy 2.0’s blowout

ABC  Four Corners, By Angus Grigg, Lesley Robinson, Kamin Gock

Workers had warned a sinkhole was likely. They had been telling the contractor the ground was too soft to continue the strategy of inching forward in the hope of hitting harder ground.

“Florence was pulling out triple the amount of soil it should have been,” one worker says. “We warned them it was going to cause a sinkhole, but they did not listen”.

Energy investor Simon Holmes à Court says Snowy has “misled the public on a number of occasions”.

“They got the cost wrong, the ground conditions, the time, the schedule, and I think the way they levelled with the public, they’ve got that wrong too.”

“They’ve given us reason to believe that things are on track. When we later found out that they’re not.”

Who does the NSW state government serve?

Four Corners asked the NSW regulator how many safety breaches there have been at Snowy 2.0.

It refused to provide the numbers, saying it may affect the contractor’s reputation.

Isn’t that the point?

Florence cost $150 million but Bogged-Florence has cost the nation $2 billion (or more). For the last 19 months, count them, nineteen, the borer has barely moved.

Someone should made a children’s book out of this so even preschoolers learn how stupid money can be magnified to do damage far beyond the initial expense.

In the end all this work and money is for one week of electricity and no one said “wait a minute”?

Snowy 2.0 was sold as being key to a low-carbon future — capable of powering 3 million homes for an entire week.

All this, for the same price as three coal plants that could power homes for 50 years…

Project management so bad it’s unprecedented —  “the worst so far”

If Snowy 2.0 had been a coal mine endangering workers, would the ABC have waited months to look into it?

“It’s one of the only times where I’ve actually had a proper emergency, where the tunnel had to be evacuated,” [Tony Callinan, NSW branch secretary for the Australian Workers’ Union (AWU).]

“I’ve seen many major projects and unfortunately, this job’s one of the worst … sorry, it is the worst by far.”

Is this the start of the ABC throwing the Snow 2.0 scheme under the bus?

Four Corners’ full investigation Tunnel Vision from 8:30 on ABC TV and ABC iview.

The only thing it has produced for the environment is a sinkhole.

You’d never know Australia was a top mining nation, eh?

This blog Feb 2023: Australia’s Biggest Renewable Energy Project, Snowy 2.0, grinds to a halt, with a stuck bore

H/t Raven

 

9.9 out of 10 based on 143 ratings

121 comments to Snowy 2.0, doomed from the start — after the sinkhole came the poison gas, “worst major project in history”

  • #
    Mike

    Let’s give a bunch of uneducated, low to moderate intelligence political parasites access to unlimited taxpayer money with absolutely no accountability. I see no flaw in this plan.

    1150

    • #
      Graeme No.3

      Neither do those uneducated political parasites see a flaw.

      520

      • #
        Geoff

        Man from Snowy II

        Now is the winter of our discontent
        Made glorious summer by this sum of Pork;
        And all the toxic clouds that lour’d upon our house
        In the deep bosom of the mud buried.

        190

        • #
          Geoff Sherrington

          Geoff,
          Good name, good work.
          Artistic criticism has high value for making the silly look even worse.
          Geoff S

          50

    • #
      robert rosicka

      There is nothing that cannot be fixed if you throw enough money at it , of course there comes a point when a sane person would call it quits and look for someone to blame but when an ideological renewable fanatic like Bowen is in charge I’m willing to bet he will just throw more money at it .

      400

      • #
        Philc

        A sane person wouldn’t have started it in the first place.

        But then I don’t think any one would claim the former member for Wentworth sane.

        It would seem most persons wanting a job of Politician or PM have a very large narcissistic/sociopathic streak in their personalities

        470

        • #
          Paul

          Surely a sane person would have listened to the workers at the ‘face’, you know, the one’s with experience and knowledge.

          10

      • #
        Dave in the States

        It’s easy to throw money down a sink hole when it’s other people’s money

        60

  • #
    RobB

    And what else is it going to do? Pump redfin up into the best trout fishery in mainland Australia.

    480

  • #
    ghl

    The world is not being governed, it is being wrung dry by the rich folk. This is the aftermath of a merchant banker pretending to be a prime minister, pretending to serve the people. “An Inconvenient Truth” in schools should be replaced By “Idiocracy”.

    920

    • #
      Greg in NZ

      Sorry 2.0? It’s sooooo bad, it’s even on our ‘news’ over here: billions spent and not even a flake of gold was found.

      We had a banker pretending to be a PM when the Pike River underground coal mine went BOOM! with the loss of 29 good men (still an unsolved murder mystery).

      So it’s back to windmills and shiny Chinese mirrors for you… good luck.

      610

      • #
        Mike Borgelt

        I doubt John Key even knew the coal mine existed. Blame the idiot bureaucrats who were meant to look after safety stuff in mines.
        Key was a heck of a lot better PM than Horseface was.

        320

    • #
      ghl

      $B15 for 150m is $M1 per centimetre.
      They are being greedy again. They want it all.
      It makes sense only if the project is not the hole, but the cash flow.

      160

    • #
      Scott

      Remember this is the same bozo that signed off on Diesel subs for delivery at some distant time in the future.

      now before you jump on the benefits or otherwise of diesel subs, this clown is pushing to cut out fossil fuels for net zero.

      So what as he going to power those subs with? vegetable oil?

      170

  • #
    Graham Richards

    Labor “ woke “ policies & governance on full display. Complete with the moron that identifies as the energy minister. Maybe he’ll chip in $10 million or so to pay for ALP insanity!

    The LNP coalition is not exactly free of guilt either. This the perfect time for Peter Dutton to launch a workable energy policy which includes a nuclear factor and HELE coal fired generators.

    His biggest problems of course are the leftist “wokesters “ in the LNP who are also hell bent on Net Zero. Let’s start with Mr Birmingham!!

    710

    • #
      Graeme No.3

      Graham,
      at the last election in below the line Senate I voted for Birmingham just above the Greens. Next time I will place in lower.

      A pointless gesture but I hoped that one of the scrutineers might notice and report it.

      200

    • #
      JohnPAK

      Gas turbines with a thermal secondary unit makes sense for Au as we have at least a century of gas in the ground.
      I like the concept of pump storage and I’d be happy with an above ground machinery hall near the shores of upper Talbingo Reservoir and some of the pipeline running over-ground. It would be a lot cheaper and finished by now.
      I’d also prefer a Rolls Royce SMR near the Talbingo dam hydro generator. The powerlines are already there and the spare night-time power could pump up Tantangara Reservoir. I’ve never seen it full. Its catchment is too small but it’s ideally suited as a high pondage for pump storage as it has quite a large volume.

      20

  • #
    Harves

    I’m no fan of their ABC, but where was the rest of the cheerleading media?

    460

    • #
      Graham Richards

      Exactly. Free to air TV collectively run a very close second to ABC. Sky News is as close as we’re going to get to sanity. The only truth channel is Rowan Dean’s “Outsiders “.
      Print media is worth less than a bog roll.

      480

    • #
      Yarpos

      They were busy cut and pasting from Reuters and assorted celebrity gossip sites. Nothing to see out there in the countryside.

      230

  • #
    David Maddison

    Another lie or misrepresenation that is allowed to propagate is that SH2 somehow will generate net electricity (if it is ever finished) when it is just a Big Battery and therefore a net energy consumer.

    And with this huge, entirely expected cost blow-out, how much will have to be charged for its battery services to make it economically viable? Or will taxpayers be expected to subsidise it?

    It would be better to build a coal, gas or nuclear power station or even a hydro power station although most of the best sites for that are taken.

    It was also deceptive to use the Snowy Hydro name, it leverages off the good name and reputation of a properly engineered and cost-effective irrigation and hydroelectric scheme conceived after WW2 when Australia seemed to have a worthwhile future and something to look forward to and a “can do” attitude.

    Also, the idea of SH2 was always known about by the original designers of the SH Scheme but they knew it would never be cost-effective, partly due to the massive tunnels required which would have to be built through highly fractured, difficult-to-tunnel rock.

    It is yet another Turnbull disaster and further proof why politicians should not be allowed to make engineering decisions.

    880

    • #
      Gary S

      Batteries are just electricity recyclers.

      200

    • #
      Graeme No.3

      David, it was originally said that an arbitrage of $40 per MWh would pay for the $2 billion. So we might think that rises to $240 assuming that the cost doesn’t rise again.

      150

    • #
      Robert Swan

      David Maddison,

      politicians should not be allowed to make engineering decisions

      Who is going to make them then? Haven’t climate and COVID capers amply shown how bad it can be when politicians outsource their decisions to “experts”?

      What is missing is *consequences*. Perhaps, when politicians “bet” on public policy, they need to hold a personal stake in it. It’s not that every public policy needs to run at a profit, but any serious budget overrun (say more than 100%) should have the deciding politician’s assets as first source of remedy. This might encourage the politicians to choose their experts for competence rather than giving the “right” answer. Obviously the Snowy debacle would already have bankrupted Turnbull, leaving the taxpayer on the hook for the rest. Personally, seeing Turnbull on skid row would take some of the sting out of it. Time in prison needs to be on the table too of course.

      But then the only way such rules can come in is through politicians. Not much chance. Funny though, if it ever got to a referendum, it might well get a “yes”.

      140

      • #
        KP

        “Funny though, if it ever got to a referendum, it might well get a “yes”.”

        Oh, I’m sure, but as you can see with the Voice… so what? They are absolutely unaccountable and hold the public in complete disdain & contempt. Ten thousand people protesting in Canberra just get ignored & the Police bring out the pain rays.

        30

  • #
    David Maddison

    It’s surprising and worthy of rare praise that Their ABC was capable of publishing something critical of Green Unicorniopia.

    Now it’s time for them to look at the rest of the “green energy” (sic) scams.

    570

  • #
    Mick CJ

    How many excellent 2023 new generation efficient COAL fired power plants could be constructed with this staggering disgraceful waste of money.
    Likely enough to secure cheap real electricity for decades to come.
    This fraud needs to stop.

    550

  • #
    Dave of Gold Coast, Qld.

    It is hard to comprehend the level of incompetence, mistakes and plain stupidity in Australia. We had Covid lockdowns to destroy businesses, close borders between states and the murderous vaccines. Before that the NBN, we have China ‘leasing’ Port of Darwin and Melbourne I think. We have the closure of Uluru to destroy aboriginal jobs, the divisive Voice. Why would anyone be shocked about Snowy 2? just another disaster in line with the failed state Australia has become. O and don’t forget the Brisbane tunnel and no one is talking costs on the M1 road construction either. There is much more!

    581

    • #
      sectokia

      Brisbane tunnel was ok because only moronic private investors who believed the obvious faked traffic estimates were scammed, every one else made out like a bandit shorting the shares. The tunnel is a by-pass of the inner city by-pass, so it’s real take up rate was well known and never going to be more than half of the icb traffic.

      110

    • #
      Kalm Keith

      That’s a great outline Dave; so many obvious insults to trusting taxpayers and no accountability for the disdain shown for the realities of Engineering, Economics and Environment.

      300

    • #
      David Maddison

      It is hard to comprehend the level of incompetence, mistakes and plain stupidity

      Indeed. It is so hard to comprehend in fact, one wonders if it is instead part of a deliberate plan to destroy Australia. And, given similar happenings in other Western countries, Western Civilisation more generally.

      430

      • #
        Lawrie

        Why wonder Dave? It has been obvious for decades that we in the West were being dudded and the Chicoms benefited. Communism was not destroyed in 1989 simply changed tactics. They stopped the bombs and bullets and we all thought it was over while they started the Green movement which has been even more destructive.

        130

    • #
      Yarpos

      I think we may have run out of luck , in the original lucky country sense. The time has come to pay for electing mediocrity.

      240

      • #
        David Maddison

        original lucky country sense. 

        That would be from 1964, Donald Horne:

        Australia is a lucky country run mainly by second rate people who share its luck. It lives on other people’s ideas, and, although its ordinary people are adaptable, most of its leaders (in all fields) so lack curiosity about the events that surround them that they are often taken by surprise.

        Clarified in 1976:

        When I invented the phrase in 1964 to describe Australia, I said: ‘Australia is a lucky country run by second rate people who share its luck.’ I didn’t mean that it had a lot of material resources … I had in mind the idea of Australia as a [British] derived society whose prosperity in the great age of manufacturing came from the luck of its historical origins … In the lucky style we have never ‘earned’ our democracy. We simply went along

        300

    • #
      Froggy

      Dave, add Light Rail……Tom Tate’s legacy project…..just about to destroy Miami, Burleigh for a couple of years at least !!!!….then onto Palmy and beyond…….

      100

  • #
    Penguinite

    This is another fine mess you’ve got us into Malcolm! I guarantee that Scomo only received Turdball’s imprimatur for the top job on the basis that he progressed Turdball’s wet dream and that was the first thing he did as PM! Even worse, the then Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, verbalised what a great investment it was is currently serving as Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Even if and it’s a big if they manage to complete the task additional transmission lines need to be constructed over adjacent farmland in order to connect it to the National Grid. We’ll be lucky if this monster comes in under 20 billion $$$. Any electricity that it manages to produce will definitely not be cost-effective. Of course, all the politicians and pubic servants that facilitated it will be long gone and “Nett Zero” will have faded into obscurity.

    521

    • #
      Yarpos

      This seems to have followed the model of the now forgotten North South pipeline in VIC. An expensive project that was supposed to help drought proof Melbourne, by connecting a reservoir to a river you couldnt take water from in a real drought.

      Then of course there is desal.

      280

  • #
    Robber

    This is the cost of “firming” the unreliable, intermittent wind and solar “cheap” electricity.
    Last night across the NEM the “big” batteries delivered 520 MW for an hour while coal delivered 15,600 MW, having had to curtail production to 8,300 MW during peak solar generation.

    390

  • #
    Ronin

    This CO2 idiocy has gone too far, it’s beyond time to call a halt, who has the stones to do it ??

    410

    • #
      David Maddison

      who has the stones to do it ??

      Australia has three conservative parties who will do it.

      United Australia Party
      Liberal Democrats
      One Nation

      We need to support them at the ballot box.

      The Liberal Party of Australia is too infested with Leftists to have any hope. And don’t forget, Australia’s green (sic) energy disaster started under the Libs when Little Johnny Howard first allowed non-dispatchable wind “generators” to connect to the grid and it’s been an ongoing disaster since then.

      The Liberal Party of Australia pretends to support nuclear but that’s only because they know that with planning approvals and court cases it will never happen in anyone’s life time plus they pretend to support nuclear and not coal or gas because they are indeed subscribers to the anthropogenic global warming fraud.

      540

    • #
      Honk R Smith

      “who has the stones to do it?”

      I fear no one.
      It’s psychological.
      So many have been convinced, I think admission of having been bamboozled is impossible.
      Same with ‘Pandemic’.
      The symbiosis is a coincidence theory.
      We’re left with this.
      https://youtu.be/3edi2Wkr5YI

      130

  • #
    Carl

    If the tunnel is ever completed, it will be 27 Km long for a rise of a few hundred metres. With such a long tunnel and such a small rise, it will waste 20% or more of the energy that it’s supposed to store. The dams are large, but with only one tunnel the rate it can consume power and release it back is limited. To make it worthwhile, several tunnels and turbines are needed, but then the cost would be absolutely ridiculous.

    290

    • #
      Graham Richards

      For God’s sake don’t say things like this. You’ll give that moron that identifies as the energy minister new insane ideas!

      380

      • #
        wal1957

        Iv’e met plenty of morons and they’re certainly a lot brighter than Bowen.
        Please stop insulting morons!😉

        121

  • #
    Neville

    We should pull the pin on this lunacy ASAP and forget the TOXIC trillion $ W & S disasters before we WASTE even more money for a NET ZERO result.
    Never forget that Net Zero Australia guesstimates that we have to WASTE 1.2 to 1.5 TRILLION $ by 2030 and 7 to 9 TRILLION $ by 2060 to reach their TOXIC delusional fantasy.
    And their TOXIC OFFSHORE W & S will only last about 15 to 20 years and then have to be torn down and replaced AGAIN and AGAIN.
    We should be building RELIABLE CHEAP BASE-LOAD energy like HELE Coal or Gas or Nuclear and we should be drawing up the plans today.

    350

  • #
    David Maddison

    Back in the day, for engineering projects they would first do COMPETENT feasibility studies (which for a project of this size might take a year or more) and before drilling 27km of tunnels (unprecedented for a pumped hydro project) they would do COMPETENT and extensive geotechnical surveys.

    A project like this would certainly not be committed to within two weeks after the lightbulb moment as when Paul Broad, the former CEO of Snowy Hydro corporation suggested it to Turnbull.

    I guess this is also relates to wokeness and post-modernism infesting engineering schools (as everywhere else). It’s all about “feelings” and “personal truths”, not scientific and engineering facts.

    Ultimately, they did it for their Green god Gaia, the engineering reality didn’t matter. (Oh, follow the money trail as well….)

    340

    • #
      ianl

      The use of pumped-in polyurethane to fill largish dribble holes suddenly occurring in the roof strata is well understood in underground mining. The technique is not uncommon. Very strict ventilation controls are imposed on all such remedial activities after extensive (and competent) analyses.

      That this was pushed and pushed so recklessly by the contractor suggests to me that the Minister (ie. Bowen) may have been constantly yelling at them to HURRY UP !! Certainly this hopeless result is a consequence of fearful incompetence at the highest managerial level.

      Whether real accountability becomes an end result is unlikely. My colleagues and myself predicted such an outcome when Lord Waffle first went on the TV to announce the project. Paul Broad was standing next to him and added in: “Depending on the geology !!”. Waffle was very unpleased. Yet alpine geology is well known, with folds, faults, cross-cut joint and fracture patterns, juxtaposed strata sequences, perched water tables … Snowy 1.0 left high-quality reports on this area, let alone the prior geological exploration that was undertaken.

      Four Corners has a mixed motive, of course. It certainly wants the project to supply renewabubble power but it hates mining. How to spin ? Oh, the dilemma …

      330

      • #
        ianl

        I meant to add that we expect the only real accountability will be seen in large premium rises for professional insurance on geotechnical projects. That was one of the real consequences from the Thredbo disaster.

        160

    • #
      Froggy

      Slightly O/T David, but my recollection is that the “Bradfield Scheme” designed all those years ago would have come in under the current SH2 cost ?? And where would we be now with that in place an operational and dare I say paid for 10 times over ???? Brainless (scared) Politicians comes to mind..

      200

    • #
      Uber

      A feasibility for a project this complex would take years. Normally the permitting alone would be a decade-long process and full of uncertainty given the unpredictability of major project approvals. This is especially so in NSW where it all comes down to a secret cabal called the ‘Independent Planning Commission’ – an Orwellian name, given that it exists purely for the sake of funnelling politics into the process. Then the drilling and testing programs would also take years, not to mention the financing, economic, risk and engineering studies.
      There are other problems not yet brought to light, such as the large shafts that need to be sunk that have no geomechanical or ground support modelling to work with.
      This project couldn’t have been more of an incompetent disaster if you’d planned it that way. The magnitude of the irresponsible, criminal waste of public treasure is incomprehensible. The only way this can realistically be completed now is to down tools for a couple of years and start doing what needs to be done – drilling, core logging, sampling, testing, and redesigning. It may even be necessary to dump the TBM entirely if major direction changes are required. I can’t see this project ever being completed. If it is it will probably be rife with problems and never work properly.

      200

    • #
      Gatone Rewine

      They spent $100 million on geology, SMEC said that more was needed, Salini pulled the plug and went right ahead. They knew about soil conditions, it didn’t stop them. The best is yet to come with 27 degrees incline, what can possibly go wrong with that? And ABC didn’t even mentioned maggots in the food, that’s disappointing!

      90

  • #
    David Maddison

    If we ever get a rational government, who will pay to clean up and fix up the environmental destruction already done?

    That area was considered protected, pristine wilderness back in the day.

    Taxpayers, I assume….

    200

  • #
    Old Goat

    The hole they dug is so deep they have to try to dig their way out . Standard operating procedure. They think if you keep doubling down , eventually you win . Gambling with other peoples money. Desal on steroids.

    230

    • #
      David Maddison

      Desal on steroids

      Yes. Most people have forgotten about multiple desal disasters around Australia from when Flim Flammery told all Australian Governments that it was never going to rain enough to fill up the dams.

      Apart from the huge and ongoing costs of the unused desal plants (for maintenance and finance/lease costs) because Flannery convinced governments dams would never fill up, a number of dam projects were canceled as a result of that untrue advice leading to further issues.

      310

  • #
    David Maddison

    I don’t think there’s a viable “exit strategy” for this disaster.

    The anti-energy Minister Bowen is too stupid to understand and to obsessed with Gaia to care.

    If the Liberals (pretend conservatives) get elected they won’t do anything because it was their idea.

    220

  • #
    Neville

    Never forget that their so called Climate Emergency is just more of their BS and FRAUD and we should check the DATA for ourselves.
    Here’s Willis Eschenbach’s Data that proves we are flourishing today and he updates this regularly to keep the data up to date.

    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/04/25/wheres-the-emergency/

    150

  • #
    Serge Wright

    This project was indeed doomed from the start, simply because this solution was looked at and rejected by those original civil engineers back in the 50s and 60s for the very reasons we see play out now. But, there is some good news in the loss of 20 billion dollars, because as we see Holmes a court moaning about the misinformation from Snowy2, it’s a reminder that lots of lucrative subsidised RE projects are hinging on Snowy2 and rich RE rent seeking magnates are getting nervous. If this project fails then it means future RE projects will not be viable, especially large scale solar and it will also create a further loss of investment confidence in the sector which is already reeling from escalating costs and technical problems in the wind sector. This will force the governments to expand back into gas and coal and also force the N discussion. Of course the down side will be a period of unaffordable energy as we hit a huge energy crunch.

    IMO – The only remaining question on Snowy2 is not when it will finish, but at what point will they cut their losses and give up !!!

    230

    • #
      DOC

      With the Federal government aiming to tax Superannuation and paper profits, who can see investment funding being available for anything anyway unless it has a government guarantee tied to it. This action by Chalmers is as close to a declaration that the Federal government is broke that one would ever see. It’s obvious now why Chalmers talked of changing the way the economy works completely, by developing major projects using combined private-government financing. He doesn’t realise his paper profits tax is going to kill investment by private investors in this country. It kills incentive.It removes financing capabilities and adds huge financial risk to companies when a bad year can bankrupt them.
      Albo, Bowen, Burke and Chalmers (ABBC) as the managers of the nation? What a disaster!

      20

  • #
    Gary S

    On the subject of the downfall of Australia – two consecutive news stories on the wireless this fine morn. First, the announcement that the Dept. of Signals (spooks) are partnering with Microsoft (you know who), to implement A.I. and build massive data centres here (we know whose data).
    Second story – calls for more public swimming pools to be built in Vic., as schoolkids have to wait up to a year for swimming lessons.
    What do you suppose the priority will be.
    It’s because the powers that be continue to proceed with money burning schemes which produce absolutely nothing of value that this country continues to slide in the economic rankings.

    150

    • #
      David Maddison

      I guess the spooks’ AI will trawl through social media and blogs like this one looking for signs of thought crimes by conservatives. Meanwhile, actual terrorist threats or other threats to Australia will be ignored or missed.

      160

      • #
        KP

        “Meanwhile, actual terrorist threats or other threats to Australia will be ignored or missed.”

        I dunno, quite often they are false flag events by the very people paid to stop them, especially when budget time comes around… They know all about them, like the fire fighters lighting fires or the FBI/CIA types running kiddie porn sites “to catch bad people”.

        10

  • #
    Dennis

    Wasn’t this project cancelled when the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme was under construction, too difficult and not considered to be cost effective?

    130

  • #
    David

    They need to abandon the TBM and start again with conventional drill and blast to validate the geotechnical then come back with a second TBM at the new location.
    Manager doesn’t have the guts.

    50

    • #
      Broadie

      They need to take The Fantastic Mr Fox’s advice and dig dig dig! Get a few large excavators and a few trucks and dig Florence out.

      Of course this would require a quarry approval and an assessment of what looks like a culturally significant, potentially a koala habitat tree. Planned start date would realistically be after the fast track approval, the year 2045, no make that 2055 after Happy Merry Holiday Day.

      30

    • #
      Gatone Rewine

      The word going around was that they ordered another TBM from China, so they considered option of total write off and starting again at the new location. There is one big problem – it takes time, long lead time and in situ assembly. They were tailor made, not just any TBM off the shelf. Taxpayer’s pockets are bottomless, apparently.

      40

  • #
    Forrest Gardener

    If only Utopia was a comedy.

    100

    • #
      Leo G

      If only …

      Puritanical dreamers invariably regard themselves as realists. Perhaps infrastructure projects should be planned and publicised by satirists.

      60

    • #
      Uber

      I don’t think even Rob Sitch could have dreamt up this episode.

      90

  • #
    Mike Smith

    The religious pursuit of Net Zero is accomplishing nothing other than the destruction of vast amounts of wealth. And it will have zero measurable effect on the climate.

    Folks need to understand two things:

    1. There is no climate emergency.

    2. Net Zero is a fantasy.

    That is all!

    240

  • #
    Penguinite

    Meanwhile, The Middle East is on fire and we’re on the verge of WW3 our Great Marxist Leader, Albo, is meeting with his Bidol in The USA before flying to meet with the Bidol’s leader in Bejing.

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    Gee Aye

    ABC- fake news.

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    another ian

    FWIW

    “An Overview of the Snowy 2.0 Pumped Hydro Energy Storage Scheme”

    https://www.flickerpower.com/images/Snowy2.0PHES.pdf

    And

    https://www.flickerpower.com/index.php/search/categories/general/the-snowy2-0-pumped-hydro-scheme

    “Critical Issues

    Tantangara Reservoir has never been more than 70% full in the 23 years to December 2020. This means that there has never been sufficient water to generate the specified 350 GWh of electrical energy over 175 hours.

    In addition, the long-term average weekly volume of the Tantangara reservoir, in the same 23 years, is 18.15% which allows only 32 GL to be used for generation.

    The long-term average storage available in Talbingo is approximately 33 GL. This volume is clearly insufficient to support 175 hours of generation, unless the water is allowed to spill which may violate the conditions of the ‘Snowy Water Licence”
    THE COMPREHENSIVE MODEL GENERATED BY BROOKING AND BOWDEN (SEE LIVE LINK https://www.flickerpower.com/images/Snowy2.0PHES.pdf )
    The sorry story

    The scheme was announced by PM Turnbull in 2017 with an estimated cost of about $2bn. The feasibility study in 2017 predicted a cost in the range of $3.8bn to $4.5bn and the scheme was expected to deliver power by late 2024.

    Nowadays it is uncertain whether the scheme will ever be completed and cost estimates (including major transmission lines and a substantial wind fleet) run over $20 billion. The scheme depends on pumping power from a fleet of wind turbines that is almost as large as the currently installed capacity of wind power in the NEM. These additional facilities will cost in the order of $14bn, not counting the transmission lines.

    Snowy Hydro’s own modelling anticipates annual generation in the order of 2.8 Terawatt hours. The review of the project by Bowden and Brooking[1] has determined that for a cost of $8bn, the average sale price for the energy generated in the 50-year life of the scheme needs to be in the order of $450/MWh. This is greatly in excess of the $135/MWh predicted in the business case.

    The scheme depends on pumping power from a fleet of wind turbines that is almost as large as the currently installed capacity of wind power in the NEM. These additional environmentally destructive wind facilities will cost in the order of $14bn, not counting the transmission lines.

    The scheme does not deliver a continuous flow of power because there is a pumping phase when water is moved from the lower reservoir to the upper level and a generation phase when the water runs down through the turbines. During the generation phase, a flow of 2000MW is specified. Whilst unrealistic, this is the scale of a large coal-fired power station; however, because the flow is not continuous, the total output is significantly less than the output from a conventional power station.
    This means that the wind turbines and the Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro facility combined do not replace a single 2000MW (2GW) of coal power.

    To replace the 20+ GW of coal capacity in the NEM, a substantial number of schemes on the scale of Snowy 2.0 will be required. The prohibitive cost of pumped hydro to support individual wind farms was calculated in a briefing note circulated to all state and federal MPs in April 2021[2].

    It should be noted that no significant pumped hydro scheme in the world runs on wind and solar power alone. The largest facility at Bath, Philadelphia (US) runs entirely on coal and nuclear power to enable those plants to run continuously at their optimum output.
    Recommendations.

    That politicians take note of the limited capacity of pumped hydro.

    That journalist and commentators convey the facts about storage cost and capacity to the public.

    Rafe Champion”

    https://www.flickerpower.com/index.php/search/categories/general/list-of-briefing-notes

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      David Maddison

      Good analysis but that’s way beyond the comprehension capacity of 99% of politicians and especially one of Australia’s most stupid and ill-informed people, the anti-energy Minister Chris Bowen.

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        Dennis

        The Andrew’s Labor Government Victoria was shocked to learn after they forced closure of Hazelwood brown coal Power Station that Snowy Hydro storage dams were very low following the drought that ended early in 2020.

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      Serge Wright

      Those numbers are referencing Tantangara as a rain fed storage reservoir, rather than a pumped hydro reservoir, which means the lake will be force filled to 100% by pumping water up from Talbingo. But, this means that Talbingo will need to be left at a lower level to accommodate the new hydro cycle and prevent flooding downstream, reducing its hydro capacity. In periods of high rainfall such as the past 3 years, Snowy2 would be unable to run for a significant period of time due to the flood risks downstream from Talbingo. The entire solution is a fraud, sacrificing enormous amounts of taxpayer funds on the alter of CC religion and achieving nothing except gross waste and mismanagement.

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    RickWill

    You’d never know Australia was a top mining nation, eh?

    The geotechnical report would make interesting reading at this point. Civil projects are inevitably built to a higher standard than mining tunnels. Most mines are depleted within decades whereas civil tunnels should stand the test of time over centuries.

    I was involved in making unique tunnels and later reviewing them for insurance risk. The first place in assessing the tunnelling risk is the geotechnical report and the background of the people preparing that report. If there are ground issues, they occur because the geotechnical work was not carried out diligently or the recommendations for risk mitigation were not implemented.

    The Victorian government learnt an important lesson with the Citlink tunnels (done before I was involves on assessing insurance risk). The East Link tunnel was overbuilt as a “:tanked” tunnel but that overcame the long term risk issues of ground settlement that was very expensive to resolve with CitilInk.

    Tunnelling in Sydney is generally lower risk than most cities because it is built on sandstone and makes for sound tunnels without tanking. The cross harbour tunnel avoided the high risk of tunnelling through soft ground in the middle of the harbour by using sealed sunk concrete sections joined to underwater portals concreted into sandstone. The tunnel under the Brisbane River got within 10m of mud so relatively high risk for an open tunnel but it was completed without loss.

    I wonder who is carrying the risk for the Snowy 2 project. The limit would be under $2bn so taxpayers will carry some of the cost.

    A whole lot of money being wasted on a non-problem. The BoM and CSIRO have a lot to answer for with their inept ACCESS team producing nonsense.

    Perth is the worst place for tunnelling because it is built on sand. The rail tunnel from the river up into the city was one of the most complex but well executed tunnelling jobs I was paid to monitor. They tunnelled through sand within 3m of the surface under existing rail line and managed less than 20mm of settlement or uplift. That was high risk in my view but was very well managed. If you have ever been into the Convection Centre car park in Perth you will have an appreciation of ground issues in sand.

    Every tunnel has unique risks and knowledge of the region helps in assessing the risk. Knowledge comes with education and experience gained over a number of projects in different environments. Sadly, expertise leaves industry as old engineers retire.

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      RickWill

      I have taken a brief look into the background of the Geotechnical Engineers fort Snowy 2. It appears that this s/show is being orchestrated by SMEC. They were the engineering group for Snowy Mountain Hydro but now undertake other work.

      Their tunnelling portfolio is not impressive. You get some idea from this:
      https://www.smec.com/project/

      And what could go wrong when the SMEC engineer offers this gem:
      Successful implementation of this ‘balanced’ risk sharing structure could be a game-changer for the Australian infrastructure industry, where traditional contract models have placed a heavy risk burden on contractors, resulting in premium construction costs and significant challenges for the industry’s long-term viability.”
      ———— Alexandre Gomes, SMEC’s Chief Technical Principal – Tunnels and Underground

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      Gatone Rewine

      Perth TBMs were ready for soft ground, they were pressurised. Florence wasn’t. For those who interested, brief explanation is here http://tunnel.ita-aites.org/en/how-to-go-underground/construction-methods/mechanized-tunnelling/slurry-shield
      I beg to disagree with your assessment of Salini’s excellence in Perth, they had plenty of cowboy attitude, seems like “she’ll be fine, mate” is their motto.
      http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/transport/safety-fears-cost-blowouts-on-perth-airport-tunnel-metronet-project-ng-b881010809z
      Unless, you meant the tunnel as a finished product.

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      • #
        James Murphy

        the pressurised system is applied in a similar way when drilling oil & gas wells.
        In most cases, the well is at atmospheric pressure at the surface, and should always be kept full of fluid. The vertical height (the depth) of the fluid is used to generate/apply hydrostatic pressure. The pressure is controlled by varying the density of the fluid. The idea is to keep the hydrostatic pressure at any point in the well, above that of the pore pressure (fluid pressure in the rock), and below the pressure at which the rock will fail.

        in more complex cases, the well is effectively isolated from the atmosphere, and extra pressure is applied to the well on the surface, rather than having to change the density of all the fluid each time it is needed. The generic term is Managed Pressure Drilling, or MPD, and there are various clever ways to achieve this.

        Determining what the magic range of pressures should be to enable drilling without allowing the well to collapse, without causing a Macondo/deepwater horizon incident, or avoiding catastrophic fracturing of the rock, can be a whole career, so please forgive the glossing over of some details.

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        RickWill

        Unless, you meant the tunnel as a finished product.

        I was referring to the rail tunnel that connects to the south and goes underground near the Perth Convention Centre. It is the southern rail line not eastern.

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    RickWill

    The blame for this fiasco can be sheeted back to Suki Manabe. He was the incompetent sod who tied CO2 to climate change and began ALL this nonsense.

    Manabe accepted the 2022 Nobel Prize in physics for making this connection. What does that say about the people who award this prize. But they did better in 2023 and created a monster for the woke world of climate botherers.

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    Fifteen Kilometres long eh! And through a mountain no less. Hmm, that’s an engineering feat in itself.

    Say, wonder if there’s a guide they could have followed.

    The Snowy Mountain Scheme has sixteen dams and pondages in all.

    Probable even more than that, there are TWELVE tunnels, ranging in length from 1.3Km to almost 24Km, and two of those tunnels are that 24Km in length, and through mountains. For those long ones, they started at either end and met in the middle, meeting inside of inches in accuracy. 26 feet across, and that’s eight metres across.

    Hmm, I wonder how they did that in the 50s and 60s, almost 70 years ago.

    A small Toowoomba Engineering Company was awarded (seemingly out of the blue, Who the hell are they? the big guys from the huge American Consortiums said) one of the contracts to construct the Tooma Dam, and the tunnel from there to Tumut, (14Km) and after that came in under time and under budget, they were awarded the Geehi end of the Tumut tunnel, and Thiess Bros made its name right there and then.

    Great link for the map, the Power stations, Dams, and Tunnels – The Snowy Scheme

    Tony.

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      Gee Aye

      You could look all those things up.

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        John Connor II

        You could look all those things up.

        Eternally helpful.

        Maybe suggest asking the Egyptians about mm accuracy in pyramids made with primitive tools.
        Maybe recruit a few “Greys” for Snowy 2.0?

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      • #

        Why yes GI, I suppose I could look them up.

        I included the link so that people (well, those who may disagree with my anti renewable leanings) who just flat out think I’m being mendacious, and ask me for links, so in readiness for just that, I did go looking and found a link.

        However, the information I provided came originally from a book I read back in the mid 1990s, so I knew the information from thirty years back, long long before any of the information was available on the Internet.

        That information came from a book titled ….. Snowy. The making of modern Australia. Written by Brad Collis, and published in 1990. (ISBN 0 340 49640 1.)

        Oh, and before you oh so politely mention that I could have looked that up too, well, I did look it up in fact ….. from my own copy of that wonderful book.

        Thanks for the umm, polite jab, eh!

        Tony.

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        Gary S

        ‘You could look all those things up.’ It’s a pity they didn’t. That’s the problem.

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        Boambee John

        Low energy, sad, pathetic even.

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      Dennis

      Following the landslide wrecking a Thredbo Ski Lodge with loss of life I viewed a discussion involving a retired engineer, born in Poland and immigrated to Australia for employment by Snowy Hydro. He explained that pole foundation was the recommended construction method because the Snowy Mountains area is unstable. He said when Thredbo Village was first constructed they also planted Willow Trees to help stabilise that area.

      His memories included during Snowy Scheme construction road collapses and tunnelling problems encountered.

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      Leo G

      … there are TWELVE tunnels, ranging in length from 1.3Km to almost 24Km

      There is also the 3 km combo aqueduct/vehicle tunnel associated with the Geehi aqueduct.

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    Philip

    Another one of those left wing fast tracked projects.

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    Boambee John

    Nothing of substance from the usual trolls. Are they in hiding?

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    Paul

    SH2, as a pumped hydro plant, will be tricky to operate. Recalling the excellent reviews about El Hiero pumped hydro some years ago on Energy Matters, I foresee difficulties.
    From a business perspective SH2 needs to operate on the difference of electricity purchased and sold. In other words, to make profit they need to pump up when electricity is cheap and release water, and generate electricity, when electricity is expensive.
    On top of this there are limits to the volume of the upper and lower basins. We should expect it to be hard to optimise their operation or, and worse, have benefit from high energy prices.

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    John Connor II

    Is this a hand typed post by Jo, a voice dictated one or a pre-prepared one?

    The world needs to know, and it’s more interesting than yet another cost-blowout gubermint disaster (maybe we should call them dudsasters).

    Al Gore said your children would never see snow again. Perhaps he meant Snowy 2.0

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  • #

    In practice SN2 was only ever going to be a limited capacity (2.0 Gw) “peaker” battery.
    It would be charged (pumping) during the day whilst RT solar reduces grid demand, and discharged in the evening and morning peaks when there is no solar.
    In reality this means it will be charged by coal and gas generation mostly to allow the maximisation of RE generation to the grid.
    Be aware though, if SN2 fails, even at a cost of $10-20 bn, the alternative will be many more batteries, which will cost far, far, more for that same capacity (200+ GWh)
    Until we get away from intermittent RE systems…..it is just going to keep costing more.

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      Dennis

      As the CEO of Snowy Hydro mentioned several months ago after he was replaced following him not telling the Minister what the Minister wanted to hear about using hydrogen fuel for the gas fired generator under construction in NSW.

      As I recall the former CEO estimated that to achieve 80 per cent renewables target would take more than 80 years to achieve, if ever achieved, and the cost would exceed one trillion dollars.

      I wondered if he had included the every about twenty years replacement of wind and solar assets?

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      Steve of Cornubia

      “Be aware though, if SN2 fails, even at a cost of $10-20 bn, the alternative will be many more batteries …”

      Or to be more accurate, ” … the only alternative that our leaders will allow us will be many more batteries …”

      There are in fact other – better – alternatives such as FF and nuclear generation.

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        Graeme#4

        Even if SN2 eventually succeeds, it will still be a minor player in the total storage requirement. There is NO viable storage medium – even the last report to govt said this, if not explicitly.

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    Ross

    If the ABC Four Corners program did this story, then in the past that flagship program would get enormous boost from all the other ABC assets. Usually, they would run with quick summaries on ABC radio news – every 15 minutes. Then double up with ABC TV news summaries and probably then also plastered over their 24 hr ABC news online programs. Plus, very often the 4C subject was further discussed on Q&A. But now Q&A has shifted time slots I believe. If it was a story damning the LNP or any other non ALP/ Greens party, the language would be very emotive with lots of “controversial” adjectives used. After that, you could be almost certain that the old Fairfax media would run with it on Tuesday. So the SMH and Melbourne Age would do some articles. Someone needs to tell me if this happened, because I simply don’t watch or listen to the ABC any more. If you do, you need to be awarded the Gold Star for bravery.

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    Geoff Sherrington

    Jo,
    Thank you for this piece.
    This Snowy business is such a major failure that questions have to be asked at the Top and answered.
    Like, was there incompetence by professional engineers, geotechnical professionals, geologists?
    Like, are the people who caused these major problems able to be identified and so held accountable?
    Like, was there managerial negligence that allowed it to go from bad to worse?
    Like, was there ministerial and/or government incompetence that over-ruled recommendations that could have been important? By
    ….
    You mention $12 billion for completion. Context. Over some years, colleagues and I discovered about 15 new mines that have so far produced mineral products sold for some $80 billion at today’s prices.
    That is the work of several thousand people working for 40 years or more. Will this Snowy matter match (waste?) half that effort by the time it is working? It gets a bit personal to see green ignorance destroying expected values like cost of living.
    Geoff S

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    Jeremy Poynton

    HS2 in the UK. What we do know is that entrusting government with infrastructure projects guarantees the most monumental pissing away of taxpayers money. IT as well – way way back, New Labour spunked £12 billion on a hopeless NHS IT system.

    FUBAR. End days.

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    Steve

    There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around,
    That old Florence the tunnel borer had got stuck in mud,

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    UK-Weather Lass

    As Confucious once said “Simply being brave and loyal was ‘hardly the way to be good’ because, without the advantage of thought and a love for learning, people would not be able to know whether their judgment had been misguided or whether their actions might lead them and others onto a perilous road, if not a violent end “…

    We are seeing what happens when the west forgets or ignores the many things its many populations had to historically understand to avoid future failures. Failure is much more embarrassing the greater the losses whether money, bodies or both.

    Idiot billionaires are still idiots.

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    Kjay

    Perhaps dear Florence might go “rogue”and cause a “crack in the world” scenario..😄
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crack_in_the_World

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    Dave in the States

    The West is living a post Soviet Union Soviet world. That is doing stupid things on an industrial scale for no good reason, and failing at it, just like they did in the Old Soviet Union. But still doubling down on it. This is what happens when burueacrats are not accountable.

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    […] published JoNova; At this rate Snowy 2, the keystone of Australia’s renewable energy roadmap, will take over […]

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    Zigmaster

    When I see Turnbulls smug face announcing snowy 2.0 and oozing pride of this great legacy he has left this country I marvel at how symbolically accurate this vision is. This single person has destroyed everything he touches leaving the Liberal Party and consequently Australia in ruin.
    With his apprentice Matt Keane and other similar leaders at state level the Libs are now out of power everywhere. Having a Labor monopoly doesn’t take long for economic vandalism to occur. And on the energy side the failure of the Libs at every level to oppose the transition craziness is sowing the seeds of future economic ruin.
    But with all the villains involved in getting us to this energy fiasco called a third world energy grid Turnbull is the head villain.

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    Warren Raymond

    This was a Turncoat project.

    It is he who should get the rope for it.

    But there are no consequences.

    There never are, because we, the people, are not holding the swine responsible.

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    STJOHNOFGRAFTON

    To make things worse the workers were originally told the gas was water vapor but it turned out to be isocyanate

    Evidently no one read the Safety Data Sheet or consulted with Safe Work Australia.

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    […] You’d never know Australia was a top mining nation, eh?Jo Nova Blog […]

    10