A study released by Hydro Tasmania has found that pumped hydro could generate up to 4800MW of potential capacity across 14 sites in Tasmania.

The Australian Government, through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), provided $300,000 in funding for Hydro Tasmania to identify potential sites for cost effective, reliable pumped hydro energy storage (PHES). Thirty potential sites were identified, with 14 sites across eight lakes now highlighted as ‘high potential’.

The options are clustered around Hydro Tasmania’s existing hydro assets, providing a big advantage in practicality, cost and speed of construction. Hydro Tasmania will be ready to progress executable projects in coming months.

Early modelling shows that, if developed, the construction of the PHES sites has the potential to create up to $5 billion of investment and around 3000 jobs in regional Tasmania over 10 to 15 years.

This project forms part of the initiative announced by the Prime Minister in April 2017 and to which $2.5 million has been committed by the government through ARENA.

The initiative, which includes a bundle of proposed projects, such as redeveloping existing hydroelectric power stations, would double Tasmania’s existing storage capacity, and along with the business case study for a second Tasmanian interconnector, would improve the affordability and reliability of the National Electricity Market.

The next step for the 14 ‘high potential’ PHES sites is a 12-month feasibility assessment, including surveying to the highest available accuracy, modelling of both the market and water resource and identifying environmental, cultural and social impacts.

PHES 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 can be dispatched rapidly, meaning it is well-placed as backup for renewable energy and during times of peak demand. 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.

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