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Over 18,000 sites across New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and the Northern Territory have been identified as possible locations for pumped hydro energy storage.

The sites have been identified as part of work being carried out by the Australian National University which is supported by a
$449,000 grant from the Turnbull Government through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

The aim of the study is to develop a nationwide map of potential sites for establishing off-river pumped hydro storage and builds on  the 5,195 potential sites identified in South Australia, Queensland, the Canberra district and in and around Alice Springs earlier this year.

Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg. said investing in renewable storage technologies, such as pumped hydro and batteries, will play a key role into securing an affordable and reliable energy network in Australia.

“The Turnbull Government is already supporting a major expansion of the Snowy Hydro scheme and looking at further hydro-electricity and pumped storage opportunities in Tasmania, the Upper Spencer Gulf in South Australia and Kidston in Queensland," he said.

Pumped hydro energy storage involves pumping water uphill to a storage reservoir and releasing it through a turbine to provide additional energy into the electricity grid when it is needed. It accounts for 97 per cent of energy storage worldwide.

The potential sites have only been assessed on a geographic basis at this stage.

Meanwhile, ARENA is currently undertaking a project to determine the technical and economic feasibility of a seawater PHES plant, located south-west of Port Augusta, in South Australia.

PHES can provide large scale storage to balance the intermittency from various forms of renewable energy. The project has considerable demonstration potential, given the need for balancing generation and other services related to maintaining system stability.

The feasibility study will further inform the market on key challenges in deploying PHES in Australia using seawater.

The application of pumped hydro using sea water could open up a significant opportunity to deploy this form of storage around Australia.

 

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