SA government invests in four pumped hydro projects

GFG Alliance's Middleback Range Pumped Hydro Project

The South Australian Government has backed four new pumped hydro energy storage projects in the Upper Spencer Gulf with almost $9 million in grants from the Renewable Technology Fund.

The projects, located at reservoirs and disused mine sites near Whyalla, Port Augusta and Port Germein, would add a total of about 750MW of generation capacity to the South Australian grid.

If all projects are progressed, the companies will invest a combined total of about $1.5 billion, creating about 550 jobs during construction.

SA Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said the key to lowering power prices in South Australia is “boosting competition”.

“These projects have the potential to dispatch cheap renewable energy when demand is high,” he said.

“Storage of renewable energy is the future and South Australia has entrenched itself as a hub for the development of large-scale storage projects.

“We want to see as many of these projects as possible developed in South Australia, and this funding will help these businesses accelerate the development of their pumped hydro projects.”

Altura Group secured a $4.7 million grant towards $9.4 million for development phase activities before a final investment decision can be made for the pumped hydro energy storage Goat Hill Project, 12km west of Port Augusta.

“The high level of current and future renewable generation in South Australia is ideally complemented by pumped hydro that can meet not only short term capacity needs, but also sustained energy requirements,” Altura Group director Rosahlena Robinson said.

“The Altura/Delta Electricity project is 230MW, with eight hours of storage to fill the energy gap for the periods when renewables resources are not available.

“The project is moving through the final development phase to support an investment decision during 2018, and is the most advanced project proposal of this technology type.”

The 230MW/1840MWh project would require an investment of approximately $410 million and would create about 200 jobs during construction.

The project is being developed with project partner Delta Electricity.

Rise Renewables received a $3 million grant towards $6.3 million in accelerated engineering, design and development activities in support of its pumped hydro energy storage project, adjacent to high voltage transmission lines and the existing Baroota Reservoir, north-east of Port Germein.

The $406 million project, delivering up to 200-230MW/1600MWh eight-hour supply, would create about 100 jobs during construction.

EnergyAustralia secured a $500,000 grant towards $8 million in engineering and design activities to support its pumped hydro energy storage project at Cultana, north of Whyalla.

The 225MW/1770MWh facility would require an investment of $477 million and create 200 jobs during construction.

GFG Alliance received a $500,000 grant towards $1.7 million in pre-feasibility work on its pumped hydro energy storage proposal at Iron Duchess mine site in the Middleback Ranges.

The $170 million, 90MW/390MWh facility would create 100 jobs during construction.

GFG Alliance executive chairman Sanjeev Gupta said Pumped hydro has the prospect of being a macro solution to power storage.

“The cost of solar and wind is rapidly declining globally with the evolution of technology and economies of scale,” Mr Gupta said.

“However, without a viable large-scale storage solution‎ this revolution is incomplete and unsustainable.

“Using the empty mining pits from our SIMEC Mining division in South Australia as reservoirs for storing hydro power, and the using the specific expertise of SIMEC Zen Energy to develop this technology, we will balance power generated by our large-scale solar projects in Whyalla with despatchable hydro power generated in the Middleback ranges.

“A dramatic reduction in power price is the most important ingredient needed for an industrial renaissance in Australia, which GFG is entirely committed to effecting.”