Australian energy company Origin Energy announced earlier this week that, in partnership with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, it intends to assess the feasibility of expanding the Shoalhaven Pumped Hydro Scheme by nearly double from its existing 240 megawatts (MW) to a proposed 475 MW.
Origin Energy and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) announced on Monday plans to finance a AU$5 million feasibility study to determine the validity of expanding the Shoalhaven Pumped Hydro Scheme, a pumped hydro storage plant which has been in operation in New South Wales’ Southern Highlands region for over 40 years. The facility is a dual power generation and water catchment, providing electricity but also providing water supply to Sydney during times of drought.
The plan to double Shoalhaven’s capacity is part of Origin’s larger plan to transition to a lower carbon future, and could potentially power up to 80,000 more homes. The $5 million feasibility study has been bolstered by $2 million from the Australian Government’s Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and will include technical and environmental studies as well as regulatory approvals.
“For more than forty years, Shoalhaven’s pumped hydro scheme has been delivering reliable renewable power to the NSW grid,” explained ARENA CEO Darren Miller. “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 potential expansion of this scheme would provide more electricity over a shorter period so Origin can deliver capacity when needed – when demand is high or when renewable output is low.”
“Shoalhaven is in the unique position of having much of the required infrastructure needed for expansion already in place,” added Greg Jarvis, Origin’s executive general manager for energy supply and operations. “This means it can be developed with less community and environmental impacts and in a shorter time frame 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.”
The feasibility study is expected to be completed in full in 2019.
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