Australia pumped hydro storage


What is Pumped Hydro?

According to Wikipedia, Pumped-storage is a type of hydroelectric energy storage used by electric power systems for load balancing. The method stores energy in the form of gravitational potential energy of water pumped from a lower elevation reservoir to a higher elevation.


Pumped Hydro South Australia – Will it work?

An analysis by researchers at the Australian National University (ANU), Australia pumped hydro storage has the capacity to store up to 1,000 times more renewable energy than it could ever conceivably need.

ANU engineering professor Andrew Blakers has conducted a study looking into Australia pumped hydro storage sites. With his research, he concluded that there are at least 22,000 suitable locations nationwide.

Professor Blakers said Australia pumped hydro storage could transition to 100 percent renewable power within two decades. This is even if storage was built at just a tiny fraction of those places.

“We only need to build about one or two dozen to support a 100 per cent-renewable electricity grid.”

ANU engineering research fellow Matthew Stocks said a typical pumped hydro facility could deliver maximum power for between five hours and one full day.

“It can go from zero to full power in about one minute,” Dr. Stocks said.

Pumped hydro is also widespread in Europe, especially in the alpine parts of Italy, Germany, and France. It is also widely used in Japan and the United States.

Professor Blakers said as investments in renewable sources of energy grow, the need for pumped hydro storage would also grow.


‘Australia could be fully electrified within 20 years’

For the report, Professor Blakers, Dr. Stocks, and their colleagues looked closely at tens of thousands of sites Australia-wide.

They found the greatest density of Australia pumped hydro storage sites were in New South Wales. This is the place where they estimated a potential 29,000-gigawatt hours’ worth of storage capacity across 8,600 sites.

In Victoria, they estimated there were 4,400 potentially suitable sites capable of storing 11,000-gigawatt hours’ capacity. While Tasmania could theoretically support 2,050 sites, adding 6,000-gigawatt hours’ of storage.

Professor Blakers said if pumped hydro storage facilities were built nationwide, Australia could run on renewables alone.

“Pumped hydro, solar photovoltaics, wind, batteries and demand management can do the whole job,” he said.

“And I think this is going to happen over the next 15 or 20 years,” he added.


Major expansion of Australia pumped hydro storage

The ANU researchers’ work was funded by a $500,000 grant made by the Federal Government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

ARENA is itself already funding feasibility studies into pumped hydro storage in Tasmania, and in the Upper Spencer Gulf in South Australia and Kidston in north Queensland.

ARENA’s CEO Ivor Frischknecht said while additional research was now needed into the 22,000 sites identified by the study, the message was clear — Australia could have 100 percent renewable power.

“There’s no question that wind and solar investment are going to keep going,” he said.

“The challenge is to ensure that we end up with a reliable system that is also affordable, and that’s where this study comes in.

In a statement to AM, Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg said “the Government was already delivering a “major expansion” of the Snowy Hydro scheme and cited the on-going feasibility studies in Tasmania, South Australia, and Queensland.”

“A new priority funding round for large-scale storage and other flexible capacity projects including pumped hydro the Government is currently working,” the Minister said.