Battery of the Nation

Pumped hydro could generate 4800 MW of potential capacity across 14 sites in Tasmania, according to a study just released by Hydro Tasmania that has already gained widespread interest, helped along by some magnificent aerial images of the region that has the potential to become the “battery of the nation” should a second sub-sea interconnector be built to the mainland.

ARENA provided $300,000 for Hydro Tasmania’s project which assessed around 2,000 potential sites for pumped hydro across Tasmania.

Out of an original shortlist of 30, Hydro Tasmania have now highlighted 14 ‘high potential’ sites for pumped hydro plants around eight existing reservoirs across Tasmania’s central highlands, north and west coast.

These sites represent a combined capacity of up to 4800 MW, which are expected to be refined down in the next phase to around 2500 MW of high potential sites. Overall the estimated capital cost across the potential projects is in the region of $1.1 - $2.3 million per MW.

In total, ARENA has committed up to $2.5 million for Hydro Tasmania’s ‘Battery of the Nation’ initiative that would double Tasmania’s existing flexible generation capacity. The Battery of the Nation is a bundle of proposed projects that include redeveloping existing hydro-electric power stations, building new pumped hydro plants and expanding the role of Tasmania in the NEM using new wind power and hydro power.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the initial concept study for new pumped hydro reinforces Tasmania’s potential to provide large-scale storage for the mainland.

“As Australia’s renewable energy make-up continues to grow, energy storage will be increasingly necessary, which is why this project is so important.

“Tasmania has been identified as the Battery of the Nation for a reason, as it has some of the best wind resources and existing hydro-electric power,” he said.

“Unlocking most of these opportunities requires additional interconnection, which is why ARENA is also working with TasNetworks to assess the feasibility of a second interconnector.”

Hydro Tasmania chief executive Steve Davy said the work confirms there’s comfortably more than 2,500 MW of reliable and cost-effective pumped hydro potential in Tasmania.

“Battery of the Nation is about locking in our island’s energy security and giving Tasmanians the lowest possible power prices. It offers a future that’s clean, reliable and affordable,” Davy said.

“Doubling Tasmania’s clean energy would also create a surplus, beyond our own needs, to support mainland Australia. That’s crucial to replace the coal power that’s being phased out.”

ARENA has provided more than $21 million in funding for feasibility studies into pumped hydro projects across Australia, including for Snowy 2.0, Cultana and Middleback Ranges in South Australia and Kidston in Queensland. Flexible capacity, including storage, is a critical component of enabling more wind and solar power in Australia’s energy system.

In his review of the National Electricity Market, Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel noted that PHES is the most mature electrical energy storage system available, accounting for 97 per cent of energy storage worldwide.

The federal government has put energy storage on the agenda to deliver a more affordable and reliable energy system for Australians, saying in a statement “Be it Snowy 2.0 in New South Wales and Victoria, large-scale batteries in Victoria and South Australia or pumped hydro in Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland, we are exploring, upgrading and expanding energy storage projects across the country”.

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