Australia to expand hydropower project to address shortages

The Australian government has announced a 2 billion Australian dollar ($1.5 billion) expansion of a hydroelectric project in its latest measure to avoid looming gas and electricity shortages across the nation's densely populated southeast.

The government plans to increase the power output of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme by 50 percent by increasing its pumped-storage capacity. Pumped-storage hydroelectricity involves pumping water uphill during times of low demand so it is available to generate more power during peak demand.

Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull says the project will provide a backup to the national power grid.

A bitterly partisan political debate over Australia's energy security has intensified in the past two weeks since the national grid manger warned of potential shortages of gas-fired electricity across southeast Australia by late next year.