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An atlas of pumped hydro energy storage

August 23, 2017 1:36 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania and the Canberra district
Andrew Blakers, Matthew Stocks, Bin Lu, Kirsten Anderson and Anna Nadolny, Australian National University

Australia has many potential sites for pumped hydro energy storage (PHES). In our initial survey of South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania and the Canberra district we have identified about 5,000 potential sites. Each site has an energy storage potential of at least 0.9 Gigawatt hours (GWh), and some have storage potential above 100 GWh.

The sites identified so far have a combined energy storage potential of more than 15,000 GWh, which is 35 times larger than required to support a 100 per cent renewable electricity grid in Australia. Further site searching is underway in NSW, Victoria, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, and will add greatly to this total. We expect eventually to find 70-100 times more sites than needed.

For comparison, the proposed Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro system would have a storage capacity of about 360 GWh. The Tesla battery to be installed in South Australia has a storage capacity of 0.13 GWh. Pumped hydro has a lifetime of 50 years compared with 8-15 years for batteries. About 36 km2 of lake is required to support a 100% renewable electricity system, which is a small fraction of existing artificial reservoirs.

Virtually all sites are away from rivers, and none intrude on national parks or urban areas. The large number of potential sites provides some confidence that there will be a good number of technically feasible PHES sites. Site searching and development of a PHES cost model are being explored as part of an ARENA funded project.

Website – Data is regularly updated here.

Download the full report here.