The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is providing $951,000 to Oven Mountain Pumped Storage Pty Ltd (OMPS) to undertake a study analyzing the benefits pumped hydro energy storage (PHES) would have on the development of the New England Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) in northern New South Wales.
OMPS will investigate how its proposed 600-MW Oven Mountain PHES facility between Armidale and Kempsey can provide system-wide benefits, by storing and enabling variable renewable energy generation, improving system strength, unlocking network constraints and helping to reduce marginal loss factors. The plant would produce 7,200 MWh of electricity annually.
The study will examine the degree to which the proposed PHES plant could unlock further renewable energy investment and the development of the proposed New England REZ. An REZ is a region that has characteristics that could make a substantial contribution to increasing the supply of renewable energy, such as having excellent wind and sun conditions. The study will also inform the development of the Oven Mountain PHES project, which is supported by the NSW Government’s Emerging Energy Program.
Alinta Energy has partnered with OMPS in the $2.2 million study which is being undertaken with the assistance of consultants Lloyd’s Register, EY and SMEC, along with the involvement of Australian Energy Market Operator and TransGrid.
ARENA says the proposed Oven Mountain site is an ideal location for PHES due to its steep topography, high hydrological head and the short distance between two reservoirs. If built, the proposed PHES plant could provide system strength to the wind and solar farms in the New England area, provide rapid grid power response and meet requirements during peak demand.
The draft 2020 Integrated System Plan forecasts Australia’s generation to be dominated by large-scale solar PV and wind by 2040, which requires new flexible and dispatchable technologies to ensure Australians have access to reliable electricity when and where it is needed. PHES can help to play a vital part with large amounts of storage capacity.
“Pumped hydro projects like Oven Mountain can play a key role in the provision of firming up and balancing the grid as increased levels of variable renewable energy generation such as wind and solar come online,” said ARENA Chief Executive Officer Darren Miller. “Renewable Energy Zones like New England … may be in weak areas of the grid. Pumped hydro can provide system security services like frequency and voltage support and it can provide bulk energy storage to help meet the evening peak.”