Snowy Hydro expansion could open the floodgates for clean energy: CEC

"Hydro power has a long and impressive history of delivering energy to Australians and meeting peak demand, now delivering about 7% of Australia's power each year and acting as the dominant form of energy storage here and across the world".

The prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, is set to announce an expansion of the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme that he says could boost electricity output by up to 50%. The latter said in a separate statement that the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is finalising a grant of up to AUD 500,000 (USD 381,000/EUR 356,000) to support the feasibility study.

The Australian government said on Thursday it may spend up to A$2 billion ($1.5 billion) to expand a huge hydro power scheme to help solve an energy crisis, although the main owners of the dam have yet to be consulted.

These sites include new tunnels and power stations, connecting existing storages.

"This isn't some sort of magic panacea", Wood told the ABC.

"The unprecedented expansion will help make renewables reliable, filling in holes caused by intermittent supply and generator outages", Turnbull said.

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"This long-term strategy must ensure ongoing investment certainty for private investors who are now focused on new renewable energy - like wind and solar - given it is now the lowest-cost new form of power generation in Australia", he said.

Turnbull said an "all-of-the-above" approach, including hydro, solar, coal and gas, was critical to future energy supplies.

A feasibility study is due for completion by the end of 2017 and the government will wait for the result before fully committing to the project.

Snowy Hydro already provided back-up energy to NSW and Victoria and could extend to South Australia when expanded, he said.

The government has assured Riverina irrigators the project will not interrupt water supply.