Hydro Tasmania study shows potential for 4,800 MW of new pumped storage

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Australian utility Hydro Tasmania has identified 14 pumped storage sites, adding fuel to the island state’s bid to make itself a hydroelectric power reserve for both it and the mainland.

The search, performed as part of Hydro Tasmania’s “Battery of the Nation” initiative, whittled a list of about 2,000 to the final 14, which, combined, represent about 4,800 MW-worth of pumped storage capacity.

The sites selected through an Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA)-supported study would be located near existing hydropower facilities, “providing a big advantage in practicality, cost and speed of construction,” the company said.

The projects could be developed at an estimated cost of between US$800,000 and $1.14 million per MW, making it a valid alternative to the proposed 2,000-MW Snowy Mountain pumped storage expansion project.

The “Snowy 2.0” plan has been a centerpiece of Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull’s plans to overhaul the country’s power sector, but projections put its cost per MW at up to $1.72 million.

If executed, the Battery of the Nation plan could create 3,000 jobs in Tasmania over a 15-year span, Hydro Tasmania said, while creating nearly $4 billion in investments.

“Two things are now official,” Hydro Tasmania CEO Steve Davy said. “Battery of the Nation stacks up very well, and we can deliver it.

“More interconnection makes all of this viable, allowing Tasmania to get its products to market. Even with that interconnection cost, our analysis confirms Battery of the Nation is a front-runner that’s extremely competitive and cost-effective.”

The company said it will now perform further pre-feasibility work on the identified sites over the next year, which are detailed in the table below.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for HydroWorld.com.

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