Origin Energy Limited has announced it will begin work on a $5 million feasibility assessment of plans to nearly double the capacity of its 240-MW Shoalhaven pumped storage plant.
Shoalhaven, in the Southern Highlands region of New South Wales, has been in operation for more than 40 years. The scheme consists of two pumped-storage hydropower stations at Kangaroo Valley and Bendeela.
These plans would involve installing a new 235-MW pump-turbine unit in an underground power cavern.
When Shoalhaven was designed in the late 1960s, a larger generating unit was envisaged. During construction in the 1970s, space was set aside for additional generation units and pipelines, transmission lines and dams are already in place. Thus, this expansion “can be delivered quickly and cost effectively with less community or environmental impacts,” Origin says.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency is contributing $2 million toward the detailed feasibility assessment, which will include technical and environmental studies, as well as regulatory approvals.
Origin says this expansion is needed to respond to the changes occurring in the Australian electricity market. The company says more large scale solar and wind projects are entering the market. A press release says: “One of the current limitations of renewable energy is its intermittency — when the sun isn’t shining or the wind is not blowing they’re unable to generate electricity. Pump storage hydro can help smooth out this intermittency by pumping water uphill at low cost on sunny days, then dispatching water for generation at times when there is no sun or wind. It’s also the perfect complement to renewables because pumped hydroelectricity can be dispatched to the grid in a matter of minutes and react to sudden changes in supply, particularly wind generation.”
The study should be completed in late 2019.
Origin produces electricity from natural gas-fired, coal, wind, pumped storage, solar and cogeneration facilities.