Hydro Tasmania names Lake Cethana its preferred site for new pumped storage hydro

Lake Cethana has been selected as Hydro Tasmania’s preferred pumped storage hydro site, and it will now progress to the final feasibility stage.

The announcement comes as part of a step forward for Tasmania’s renewable energy ambitions, unveiled Dec. 15 by the Tasmanian and Australian governments. Hydro Tasmania welcomed the Prime Minister, Tasmanian Premier and Federal and State Energy Ministers to its Trevallyn Power Station to announce a bilateral memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two governments. The MOU outlines a shared path forward and further certainty for progressing Marinus Link, the new 1500-MW interconnector between Tasmania and mainland Australia, as well as the Cethana pumped hydro and hydropower upgrade opportunities in the existing portfolio that form the Battery of the Nation.

Hydro Tasmania Chief Executive Officer Evangelista Albertini said that it was an important next step for Battery of the Nation and Tasmania’s visionary renewable energy plan. “The Australian Government continues to show strong support for these opportunities and today further demonstrated their commitment to working with our state to realize this significant opportunity,” he said. “Marinus Link is a critical enabler of the Battery of the Nation. Together, these projects can support the nation’s transition to a clean energy future by providing cost-effective, dispatchable, highly flexible renewable energy, backed by deep storage capacity.”

Pumped hydro opportunities at Lake Cethana and Lake Rowallan in Tasmania’s North West and another near Tribute Power Station on the West Coast were prioritized for assessment on a range of technical, environmental, social and economic factors as part of Hydro Tasmania’s feasibility study.

“Lake Cethana is our preferred site that will now progress to final feasibility assessment. This will involve more on-the-ground investigations and local community engagement to look more closely at technical, social and environmental factors,” Albertini said. “Completing the feasibility assessment on the Cethana project will be the next step towards developing a pumped hydro project that can deliver positive outcomes for local communities and Tasmania, and support Australia’s transition to clean energy.”

Albertini said Hydro Tasmania would continue to progress its work to align the Cethana pumped hydro opportunity to the second 750-MW Marinus Link cable development. This cable will trigger the need for a pumped hydro development to provide the cost-competitive deep storage that will be required for reliable electricity supplies as more variable renewable energy permeates the grid.

Previously, Hydro Tasmania has said that Lake Cethana, in the Mersey-Forth region, offers 12 hours of storage capacity in a new upper reservoir. The potential generating capacity of this site has not been released.

The first 750-MW cable will unlock hundreds of megawatts of existing and available latent capacity in the current hydro system that can support the market transition, Hydro Tasmania said. It will also trigger upgrades to the existing hydro fleet to increase capacity, which includes a potential redevelopment of the 90-MW Tarraleah pumped storage power scheme.

Hydro Tasmania’s Battery of the Nation initiative has been supported with $5 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

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