Pumped? NSW Government announces 24 sites for hydro schemes

State looks at renewables future with pumped hydro as backbone


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Pumped hydro sites dotted across NSW

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The NSW Government has identified 24 sites along the eastern half of the state that may provide renewable energy sources including pumped hydro.

It says it has identified 24 energy projects with a total generation capacity of around 7,000 megawatts that have been shortlisted for development on dams owned and operated by WaterNSW. Most of these projects are pumped hydro energy storage.

Minister for Energy and Utilities Don Harwin says the potential for pumped hydro to supply on-demand energy was extraordinary.

“Pumped hydro delivers the long-term, utility-scale energy storage that is critical to achieving a smooth transition to renewables in NSW,” said Mr Harwin.

“If harnessed, the collective capacity of these 24 projects could supply 50 per cent of NSW’s peak demand for electricity on the hottest days.”

Pumped hydro stores energy for when the grid needs it by pumping water up-hill when demand is low and then releasing it down pipes through a turbine to generate electricity when demand is high.

Mr Harwin says the large-scale projects that will be developed using WaterNSW assets will reshape the NSW energy landscape and help support the State’s $26 billion pipeline of renewable energy projects.

“This Roadmap will drive investment to ensure our energy system in NSW is robust and reliable into the future, better for our environment and importantly - cheaper for households and businesses.

Minister for Regional Water, Niall Blair said combining water security infrastructure with renewable energy options is a win-win.

“This is a great use of our dams - we know clean energy projects like this are key to attracting investment in our regional communities and ensuring their growth for generations to come,” Mr Blair said.

“We have received enormous interest from the private sector with 65 commercial opportunities identified, 24 of which WaterNSW has selected for further investigation.

“The projects range from new traditional hydro projects to battery storage - but predominantly pumped hydro combined with wind, solar or both.”

The government has also worked with the Australian National University (ANU) to identify widespread opportunities for off-river pumped hydro in NSW. ANU found 20,000 reservoirs that could be used to form around 98,000 possible pumped hydro projects. This represents further opportunities for an incredible 50 terawatts of capacity in NSW – more than 5,000 times more energy storage than the State is expected to need in 2040.

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