Hydro power plant

EnergyAustralia has been awarded $11 million in funding as part of the New South Wales Government’s Pumped Hydro Recoverable Grants program for its pumped hydro facility in the Central Tablelands.

EnergyAustralia will contribute a further $17 million towards studies for this state-significant project.

The funding announcement comes as EnergyAustralia focuses on developing large-scale low emissions energy projects to achieve net zero by 2050, including Australia’s first carbon offset gas and hydrogen capable power plant near Wollongong and several battery projects.

Located on EnergyAustralia land at Lake Lyell near Lithgow, the pumped hydro project would see the development of a purpose-built facility that uses existing infrastructure, water and nearby transmission lines to provide large-scale energy storage.

Pumped hydro is recognised as the most established form of large-scale energy storage. Using a proposed new 4.4 gigalitre dam, the project would quickly release water to generate energy at times when power supplies are needed and cannot be delivered by other forms of generation – supporting reliable, affordable and cleaner power for homes.

The project is in the feasibility phase and if built it has the potential to provide 335 megawatts of electricity with around eight hours of storage – enough to power over 150,000 households during peak demand.

Lake Lyell – while owned by EnergyAustralia as part of Mt Piper power station’s water supply system – has public access and is a popular recreational and tourism spot. 

Community consultation will be a key activity as feasibility studies progress, with EnergyAustralia also looking at how to share project benefits with the community.

EnergyAustralia Trading, Transition and Reputation Executive, Ross Edwards, has thanked the New South Wales Government and said he is pleased to be working towards exploring pumped hydro’s potential and contributing to the energy transition.

“This is an exciting next step for the Lake Lyell pumped hydro project and we look forward to undertaking feasibility studies and continuing to work with the community to plan for our energy future.

“Lake Lyell pumped hydro would continue Lithgow’s proud history of power generation into the future and repurpose existing infrastructure to support our energy transition, while creating local jobs.”

Four of NSW’s five remaining coal-fired plants are scheduled for retirement between 2023 and 2035 and alternative technologies are needed to store energy and release it into the grid when demand is high and renewables aren’t available.

Pumped hydro is considered highly promising, with the Australian Energy Market Operator identifying a critical need for a portfolio of energy storage solutions to efficiently distribute renewable energy and support the smooth operation of intermittent forms of generation. 

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