Showing posts with label water wars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label water wars. Show all posts

Monday, 15 January 2018

Remember the man who spent millions unsuccessfully seeding clouds and more money chasing the myth that NSW coastal rivers could be turned inland?



Well, Mr. Turnbull as Australian Prime Minister returned to his favourite pastime last year - spending other people’s money on dubious water projects - and is holding fast to yet another hare-brained proposal, Snowy 2.0.

Financial Review, 4 January 2018:

Nine months ago Snowy Hydro, the electricity generator and retailer owned by the Commonwealth, Victoria and NSW governments, announced that it would be carrying out a feasibility study into a massive expansion of the Snowy hydro generation system to add 2000 megawatts of pumped hydro generation capacity. Snowy Hydro's announcement of the feasibility study followed an earlier announcement from the Prime Minister that Snowy 2.0 was expected to cost $2 billion.

The feasibility study was published shortly before Christmas and the final investment decision is expected by the end of 2018. All economic analysis has been excluded from the public version of the feasibility study. But the publicly available version does report the "base cost" of Snowy 2.0 (to Snowy Hydro) is likely to be in the range from $3.8 billion to $4.5 billion. This "base cost" excludes land and developments costs, funding and financing costs, GST, project management or hedging costs. And the feasibility study warns that there are risks, opportunities and contingency amounts that significantly affect this range.
In addition to the costs that Snowy Hydro incurs, Snowy 2.0 will be the largest point connection in the National Electricity Market's history and will require massive transmission expansion along the Great Dividing Range. TransGrid in NSW provided early estimates of transmission costs in NSW related to Snowy 2.0 of $0.6 billion to $1.4 billion. Estimates of the requirement in Victoria are not yet known but are likely to be even higher because the necessary upgrade to Victoria will be even larger.
So, in round numbers, a conservative estimate of the total capital outlay attributable to Snowy Hydro 2.0 will be at least $8 billion, four times more than the prime minister suggested when announcing this project. It would be surprising if the estimate at the time of the final investment decision is any lower than this, and the actual build cost will surely be yet higher, quite possibly significantly so.

Will it nonetheless be money well spent? This is very unlikely. Pumped hydro is an inefficient storage technology. Australia already has significant pumped hydro capacity – 900 megawatts (MW) at Tumut 3 in Snowy and 500 MW at Wivenhoe in Queensland. Both are rarely used because they are inefficient.
The feasibility study says that at capacity, Snowy 2.0 will only produce about 1 kilowatt hour for each 1.5 kilowatt hours needed to pump water to the top reservoir. Add to that 10 per cent for losses in transmitting electricity from generators in the Hunter and Latrobe valleys to pump the water uphill. And then add another 10 per cent for losses in transmitting the stored electricity back to the main load centres in Sydney and Melbourne where most of it will be consumed. In other words, Snowy 2.0 will use about 1.8 kilowatt hours for each kilowatt hour that it actually delivers to consumers. By comparison, a battery installed on a customer's premises or on the local grid can be expected to use about 1.1 kilowatt hour for each kilowatt hour delivered.
It is inconceivable that Snowy 2.0 will produce revenues that are vaguely close to that needed to compensate its capital outlays. This is because the volume of electricity it can produce, valued at the difference between the price paid to pump water uphill and the price received when running the water back down the hill again, will be much too small.
Experience in other countries is also instructive. The feasibility study likens Snowy 2.0 to the Dinorwig pumped hydro plant in Wales. Dinorwig, along with the smaller Ffestiniog, has comparable capacity to Snowy 2.0. In its most recent market transaction six months ago, the market value of Dinorwig and Ffestiniog was established at $236 million, a small fraction of its initial build and subsequent refurbishment costs.
It is almost certainly the case in Australia that the market value of Snowy 2.0 will be a small fraction of its likely construction cost. If they decide to proceed with Snowy 2.0, the Commonwealth, NSW and Victorian governments will be forced to substantially write down their investment, at tax payers' expense. Or, if they can not stomach that, electricity consumers will be forced to fund the deadweight.
There is time to dodge this bullet. At the very least, independent investment advisors should now be asked to opine, in publicly available reports, on likely market valuations of Snowy 2.0, before any further contemplation of this project.
The Snowy 2.0 feasibility study can be found here.
A word of warning to readers. SMEC (formerly the Snowy Mountains Engineering Company and now a member of the Subarna Jurong Group) has been involved in the Snowy 2.0 feasibility study since May 2017.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

SA Royal Commission into Murray-Darling Basin management and alleged water theft


The NSW Berejiklian Government will not be happy with this………

ABC News, 30 November 2017:

Allegations of water theft upstream in the Murray-Darling Basin (MDB) have prompted South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill to launch a state royal commission to identify any perpetrators.

New South Wales and Queensland were slapped with a scathing assessment of compliance with the MDB Plan on Saturday, after a review found poor levels of enforcement.

The review also found a lack of transparency surrounding the states' water management, along with Victoria's.

Mr Weatherill said the report did not go far enough and announced a royal commission.

"The review that was handed down did not go into detailed findings of who committed water theft and who behaved inappropriately in relation to the river," he said.

"There have been no specific findings in relation to individuals or groups of individuals."

When asked whether a state royal commission could force bureaucrats from interstate to give evidence, Mr Weatherill said the royal commissioner would be given the powers of compulsion.

"And they will have no choice but to come forward," he said.

"A state-based royal commission does have the capacity to analyse things that touch on other states, provided there is a connection to South Australia.”

"That's our very clear legal advice and it's our intention to pursue this royal commission's power to their fullest extent, so we can get to the bottom of this water theft."…..

Despite labelling it "just another stunt", the Federal Government said it would cooperate with SA's royal commission.

Assistant water resources minister Anne Ruston said the issues in the basin were being addressed but the Commonwealth would not stand in the way of the commission, and neither should NSW or Victoria.

"I'd like to think they'd cooperate, certainly the Commonwealth will cooperate, we haven't got anything to hide," she said.

The Australian Government’s 25 November 2017 The Murray–Darling Basin Water Compliance Review can be read here.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

NSW Environmental Defender's Office has served irrigator and Nationals donor Peter Harris a summons demanding he return more than five billion litres of water he is alleged to have illegally taken from the Barwon-Darling River


The Australian, 14 November 2017:

The NSW Environmental Defender’s Office has served irrigator and Nationals donor Peter Harris a summons demanding he return more than five billion litres of water he is alleged to have ­illegally taken from the Barwon-Darling River.

The incidents of alleged water theft are the subject of ICAC, Ombudsman and Office of Water inquiries, which follow the standing down and resignation of former senior NSW water bureaucrat Gavin Hanlon.

It has also been revealed that NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair benefited Mr ­Harris, a cotton farmer, and other irrigators by changing the laws to pardon Mr Harris retrospectively for illegal flood works and that Mr Blair lobbied Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton to change the law to justify a decision to give Mr Harris more water trading rights.

In their action in the Land and Environment Court, the plaintiffs demand “the return of water, up to the equivalent of the total volume ... (to) occur immediately after the water is extracted from the water source and has passed through metering equipment” to measure it, but before it is stored.

Alternatively, the defender’s office is seeking orders so that Mr Harris forfeits his entitlement to the equivalent amount of water in ­future to replenish the river.

The summons was served on Peter James Harris and Jane Maree Harris and the matter is listed for December 8.

The amount of water allegedly taken would fill more than 2000 Olympic swimming pools.

Office chief executive David Morris said the action was being taken because the NSW government was not moving quickly enough to penalise Mr Harris.

“On two occasions EDO NSW has written to the NSW government outlining concerns about potential breaches of the Water Management Act 2000 (NSW) and informing the government of intention to commence civil enforcement proceedings,” he said.

“No adequate response has been received from the government. In the face of government inaction, our client (the Inland Rivers Network) has seen no other choice but to commence proceedings in the Land and Environment Court.”

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Castle Hill, Townsville carries the message "STOP ADANI"


A major heritage-listed landmark shows that not everyone in Townsville, Queensland, appears to be happy with becoming a mining FIFO dumping ground hub for the financially dubious multinational Adani Group ……

Castle Hill aka Cutheringa Mountain est elevation 264 metres
Image: Townsville Bulletin, 16 October 2016