Pumped hydro energy storage in the New England Renewable Energy Zone could be a reality thanks to support from the Liberal Nationals Government.
On behalf of the Liberal Nationals Government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is providing $951,000 to Oven Mountain Pumped Storage Pty Ltd in partnership with Alinta Energy to undertake a study on pumped hydro energy storage (PHES) at Oven Mountain, near Armidale and Kempsey in Northern New South Wales.
Federal Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce welcomed the funding announcement saying the scheme would complement existing renewable power generators in the New England area.
"We've made massive investments in the New England into renewable energy, in fact we're one of the biggest renewable energy hubs in Australia,” said Mr Joyce.
“Just like the Inland Rail, others talked about it for years and I made sure it happened. Likewise, others have talked about the utilisation of this water resource for years and I’m making sure we are taking the first steps to getting it done.”
The $2.2 million study will determine how the proposed 600 MW / 7,200 MWh pumped hydro facility at Oven Mountain could support system strength in Queensland and northern New South Wales by storing and enabling renewable energy generation.
The study will examine if the proposed PHES project would unlock further energy investment in the New England region. If proven feasible, it is estimated the project would generate approximately 600-1,000 construction jobs and 30 ongoing jobs once the plant is completed and commissioned.
Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said pumped hydro provides reliable, secure and affordable energy, and complements the unprecedented wave of investment in renewable energy.
“Pumped hydro projects like Oven Mountain can help to firm up and balance the grid as increased levels of intermittent renewable energy generation such as wind and solar come online,” Mr Taylor said.
“This project is part of the Government’s ongoing commitment to deliver more reliable and affordable electricity while securing our future energy needs.”
As part of the NSW Transmission Infrastructure Strategy, the NSW Government will prioritise the New England region as one of three renewable energy zones. Renewable Energy Zones are areas with high energy potential where planned transmission infrastructure upgrades are able to connect multiple projects at lower cost.
Separate to this project, the Government has shortlisted six pumped hydro projects through the Underwriting New Generation Investments program which is designed to deliver affordable and reliable power.
The Government is taking action to drive down electricity prices by increasing competition and increasing supply in the market.