Origin Energy’s proposed expansion of the Shoalhaven pumped hydro scheme will progress to a $5 million feasibility assessment, after receiving part-funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
Located approximately 150km south of Sydney in the Southern Highlands, the 240 MW Shoalhaven pumped hydro scheme has been operating since 1977, supplying clean and reliable electricity to thousands of homes and businesses.
Earlier this year Origin detailed several options to expand Shoalhaven, with the feasibility study to focus on a preferred option to nearly double the plant’s overall generating capacity via a single 235 MW generating unit housed in an underground power cavern.
ARENA is contributing $2 million towards the detailed feasibility assessment that will include technical and environment studies as well as regulatory approvals.
Origin executive general manager energy supply and operations Greg Jarvis said, “We welcome ARENA’s support of a feasibility assessment into the expansion of the Shoalhaven pumped hydro scheme.
“Shoalhaven is in the unique position of having much of the required infrastructure needed for expansion already in place. This means it can be developed with less community and environmental impacts and in a shorter timeframe compared to developing the same amount of additional capacity as a greenfields project.
“This is a strong prospect for future expansion, because Shoalhaven can feed electricity into the grid in as little as three minutes, therefore improving reliability and complementing growing intermittent renewables in the system.
“We will now get on with important assessments and the necessary regulatory approvals that may allow us to double Shoalhaven’s generating capacity in the future,” Mr Jarvis said.
A full feasibility study is expected to be completed in 2019.
ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the proposed expansion would help provide large-scale storage and would inform other pumped hydro developments.
“For more than 40 years, Shoalhaven’s pumped hydro scheme has been delivering reliable renewable power to the NSW grid. When it was built in 1977, Shoalhaven was future proofed to allow for more capacity to be added later on, which should reduce the cost and environmental impact of this project.
“The findings of this study at Shoalhaven will help provide key understandings that can be applied to other hydro energy projects ARENA has supported such as Snowy 2.0, Hydro Tasmania’s Battery of the Nation initiatives, Kidston in Queensland, Cultana and the Iron Duchess in South Australia,” Mr Miller said.
A full feasibility study is expected to be completed in 2019. Any future decision to go ahead on an expansion will depend on circumstances at the time, including a more certain regulatory and political environment and clarity on any competing generation capacity the government may fund.
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