Australia

Pumped hydro to triple electricity storage

The 20 pumped hydro projects in the works will triple the nation's electricity storage capacity, research from the Australian National University suggests.

There are enough pumped hydro projects being planned across Australia to triple the nation's electricity storage capacity, research has revealed.

There are 20 projects in five states at various stages, with some in initial assessment phases while others are being constructed.

Australian National University researcher Jamie Pittock says this will dramatically change the electricity grid for a number of reasons.

Not only will it see more renewables added to the system, Professor Pittock says, but the projects will increase the resilience of the grid as the pumped hydro facilities are peppered around eastern Australia.

"The scale of the investment in pumped storage is a game-changer," he told AAP on Monday.

"It means we can continue to add in solar and wind and retire coal fired power stations, and keep the lights on."

Prof Pittock says other research has shown these 20 projects could be enough to support the whole National Electricity Market.

Pumped-hydro schemes have two water reservoirs at different heights joined by a pipe.

When power prices spike, water is released from the upper reservoir to flow through turbines and make electricity, getting up to full capacity within a minute.

The water can be pumped back up when costs fall again.

The federal government has recently announced $1.38 billion to support an expansion of the Snowy Hydro scheme in NSW.

Tasmania is also spending $30 million on feasibility studies to investigate three pumped hydro storage sites as part of the Battery of the Nation project.

Prof Pittock says Snowy 2.0 is so large it could run the eastern grid for a day, whereas other projects would be able to store enough for peak power needs.

Household battery storage complements pumped hydro but has a higher environmental impact, he added.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch