Australia Eyes Pumped Hydro to Compliment Battery Surge

Australia, already a world leader in battery storage, is eying
at least 363 gigawatt-hours of new pumped hydro capacity, a review
of current projects shows.

The figure is based on a survey of nine major projects and does
not include schemes where the energy storage capacity has yet to be
specified, including a 235-megawatt extension to Australia’s
Shoalhaven pumped hydro facility and around 2.5 gigawatts of power
in Tasmania. 

Together, the nine projects could add more than 4 gigawatts of
power to the Australian grid, although in practice it is unlikely
all of them will be developed because of distribution network
constraints. 

Most of the new capacity would come from a proposed 2-gigawatt
expansion of Snowy Hydro, Australia’s largest existing hydro
reserve.

Press reports said Snowy Hydro executives could make a final
investment decision on the New South Wales-based project this
month; although government approval, which could be swayed by a
preference to build new coal plants instead, might not come until
January. 

Costing up to AUD $4 billion (USD $3.2 billion), the project
would add 350 gigawatt-hours of energy storage to the Australian
grid. “A go-ahead is needed in the near term to keep to the
target of starting generation in late 2024,”
said
The Australian Financial Review.

Elsewhere, at least half a dozen proposed pumped hydro projects
could deliver than a gigawatt-hour of energy storage apiece.

The largest of these is a 600-megawatt, 3.6 gigawatt-hour plant
announced by Oven Mountain Pumped Storage last year, with a
forecast commissioning date of 2022 or 2023. Little has been heard
of the venture since its announcement, however. 

More promising is a 250-megawatt, 2-gigawatt-hour plant planned
in Queensland by project developer Genex Power. The project is said
to be the world’s first pumped hydro plant co-located with
large-scale solar. 

In October, it was given “coordinated project” status by the
Queensland authorities, which means it will be fast-tracked through
the approval process. Construction is slated to begin in
2019. 

Meanwhile in South Australia, Altura Group and Delta Electricity
said in May that they had been given development approval for a
230-megawatt, 1.8-gigawatt-hour plant, Goat Hill, in collaboration
with Delta Electricity.

Altura said in
a press release
that work was already underway for detailed
plant design and construction contracting, putting the Goat Hill
Project “on track to be the first pumped storage hydro “shovel
ready” project in South Australia.”

Since then there has been no further news of the AUD $410
million (USD $295 million) project, though.

Among the other plants said to be under development, perhaps the
most noteworthy is EnergyAustralia’s plan to develop a
225-megawatt, 1.8 gigawatt-hour seawater pumped hydro facility.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency carried out
a feasibility study
of the Cultana scheme last year and
concluded it could be built at a cost of AUD $270 (USD $195) per
kilowatt-hour of installed capacity, “around a third of the cost
of batteries.”

Interest in pumped hydro is increasing in Australia as the
country looks to retire aging coal plants and grow the proportion
of renewable energy generation sources on the grid.

More than 30 new large-scale solar and wind plants are being
built across Australia and a further 180 are thought to be in
planning, said Mary Hendriks, industry executive at the Australian
Energy Storage Alliance.

“With the ongoing rapid construction of wind and solar farms in
Australia, high uptake of energy storage solutions is imminent,”
she said. 

Australia has significant pumped hydro potential, she stated,
and the technology “will be an important component of the energy
storage future for Australia,” she said. “But these projects
will take significant investment and time to complete.” 

In the meantime, the country is continuing to move forward with
ambitious battery adoption measures. Australia’s Clean Energy
Regulator estimates more than 11,000 residential battery systems
are being installed across the country per year. 

And at grid scale, “most New South Wales development approvals
for solar or wind farms recently lodged include the potential for
future installation of utility-scale battery storage,” Hendriks
said.

The first utility-scale battery storage projects in Victoria
became operational in November and in New South Wales “several
are planned for 2019,” Hendriks said.

Source: FS – GreenTech Media
Australia Eyes Pumped Hydro to Compliment Battery Surge