Pumped Hydro- what is it, why we need it, and the potential barriers.
The expansion of variable energy generation (i.e. solar and wind) will require large scale storage to balance periods of low energy production. The potential to utilise pumped hydroelectric storage (pumped hydro) to provide the necessary load balancing storage is growing within Australia.
Work at ANU has identified 22,000 potential pumped hydro sites in Australia, and has shown that the pathway to 100% renewable electricity will cost less than a fossil fuel alternative.
While pumped hydro is a proven technology for storing large-scale clean energy (accounting for 96% of the worlds energy storage) there are few examples in Australia. The potential barriers to developing pumped hydro projects in Australia, such as engineering features, identification of potential sites and environmental considerations, will be discussed based on two case studies; the Kidston project in Queensland and the “Battery of the Nation” initiative.
Professor Andrew Blakers is Professor of Engineering at the Australian National University. His research interests are in the areas of solar photovoltaic energy and sustainable energy policy. He has extensive experience with basic and applied research, and led the team that developed PERC solar cell technology, which currently has approximately one quarter of the worldwide solar market. He is engaged in detailed analysis of energy systems with high (50-100%) penetration by wind and photovoltaics with support from pumped hydro energy storage.
Nick West is a civil engineer at Entura, working primarily in the fields of hydraulics and hydropower. Nick’s skills range from the technical analysis of the layout of hydropower projects to the preparation of contractual project documents and computational hydraulic modelling. Nick was a key team member of the Kidston Pumped Storage Project Technical Feasibility Study and was involved throughout the development and construction of the Neusberg Hydroelectric Project in South Africa. Nick is currently the project manager of the pumped hydro studies under Hydro Tasmania's "Battery of the Nation" initiative.