The iconic Snowy Hydro scheme will get a $2 billion expansion in what has been called a game changer for east coast power supply.
It's expected the new project - the first major expansion since the scheme was completed in 1974 - will increase its output by up to 50 per cent, or enough to power an extra 500,000 homes.
Supercharging the Snowy scheme's storage would help the electricity market cope with peak demand at a time when baseload energy is closing and intermittent renewables like wind and solar are not providing the reliable capacity Australian businesses and homes need, Snowy Hydro managing director Paul Broad said on Thursday.
‘‘The creators of the scheme foresaw a time when its capabilities may need to be expanded and, as a result, there are very real options in-built in the scheme's design to extract more value to the community," he said.
The federal government will give $500,000 for a feasibility study to examine four possible sites for the expansion.
The final design could include three new tunnels stretching 27km and new power stations - but no new dams - and is expected to take between four and seven years to complete.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the unprecedented expansion would help make renewables reliable.
More in next week's Country News.