It took 100,000 construction workers a quarter of a century to bore through the Snowy Mountains to build Australia’s largest hydroelectric scheme. The vast nation-building project links nine power stations and 16 dams via a network of 145km of tunnels and pipelines, providing irrigation water and energy that has helped transform the country’s economy since it began operating in 1974.  Now, almost half a century later, Australia’s newly elected government is placing the state-owned Snowy Hydro plant at the vanguard of another energy transition by transforming it into a massive “water battery” that will help keep the lights on as the country shifts from an electricity grid based mainly on fossil fuels to one built around renewable energy. “We are betting the whole company on it,” says Paul Broad, Snowy Hydro’s CEO, who confounded critics by persuading Canberra to back an expansion worth more than A$5bn ($3.5bn) that was dismissed just a decade ago as too expensive and risky. “You can’...

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