Two feasibility studies into expanding two hydro-electric power stations in Tasmania, and exploring the potential to develop significant pumped hydro energy storage (PHES) have received $2.5 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

The studies will look into the feasibility and locations for pumped hydro energy storage, the redevelopment of the power scheme at Tarraleah, and potential of expanding the output of the Gordon Power Station.

Thirty potential locations for pumped hydro have been identified by Hydro Tasmania, and they will be working to narrow this selection down further.

Liberal Member for Lyons, Guy Barnett, said, “This will help Tasmania work towards doubling our current clean energy capacity, and will put us in a strong position to supply reliable, affordable and renewable energy to the nation.”

When it’s fully realised, pumped hydro could generate up to 2,500 megawatts (MW) of electricity, which would double Tasmania’s current hydro capacity and provide flexible, dispatchable energy when it’s needed by customers.

It could also create up to $5 billion of infrastructure investment, and up to 3,000 jobs across a 10 to 15 year construction period.

CEO of Hydro Tasmania, Steve Davy, said, “It will lock in full energy security for Tasmania, help give Tasmanians some of the nation’s cheapest power prices, and give us plenty of spare energy to support mainland Australia.

“At a time when Australia badly needs flexible and storable energy to replace the coal power it’s phasing out, the Battery of the Nationoffers a future that’s clean, reliable and affordable.”

ARENA CEO, Ivor Frischknecht, said the Battery of the Nation studies, along with feasibility studies into Snowy Hydro 2.0, would examine how pumped hydro energy storage could play an expanded role in Australia’s energy mix, and help accelerate the transition to renewable energy.

“These feasibility studies are the first step towards significantly upgrading or replacing some of Tasmania’s existing power stations and introducing pumped hydro energy storage,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“With these projects, we could double Tasmania’s pumped hydro capacity and help power an additional 500,000 households. Tasmania could play a crucial role in helping to provide secure, reliable – and renewable – electricity for the National Energy Market,” Mr Frischknecht said.

Expanding pumped hydro potential in Tasmania

This two-stage concept study is exploring the potential for pumped hydro energy storage across Tasmania, which could increase generation capacity by 2.5 gigawatts. The initial stage has identified high potential pumped hydro sites across Tasmania.

Approximately 30 sites are being considered based on technical feasibility and topography, environmental sensitivity, land use constraints, road access and access to grid, proximity to existing renewable energy assets, construction risks, and capital costs.

The next stage will involve a full pre-feasibility assessment of ten to 15 shortlisted pumped hydro sites across Tasmania.

Tarraleah and Gordon Power Stations

With the support of ARENA, Hydro Tasmania is also conducting pre-feasibility studies into the redevelopment of the Tarraleah Power Scheme and the augmentation of the Gordon Power Station.

The iconic Tarraleah Power Station in the Derwent Valley is more than 80 years old. The Tarraleah redevelopment would involve building a new power station, which would cost up to $650 million, and increase the energy output by up to 200 gigawatt hours a year.

The augmentation of the 432MW Gordon Power Station would involve building a new turbine at Tasmania’s largest power station. To manage environmental water flows, one of the largest turbines is currently being run at very low efficiency. This augmentation would allow more efficient generation from existing environmental water flows to the Gordon River.

The initial stages of these studies, jointly funded by ARENA and Hydro Tasmania at a cost of $1 million, will be completed by the end 2017. Based on the outcomes of the studies, construction on augmentation of the Gordon Power Station could begin in 2018.

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