The sites are gathered into the South Australian Pumped Hydro Atlas.
South Australia is the state with the largest proportion of variable renewable electricity (wind and solar PV). This is expected to increase into the 50 percent to 100 percent range in the coming years. The team at ANU says pumped storage development “may help secure Australia’s electricity grid.”
The sites were found using algorithms with defined search criteria within a geographic information system (GIS) platform. This platform was used to find detailed information, such as head, reservoir areas, and storage capacity. Mining pits have not yet been analyzed.
Researchers say the 185 upper reservoir sites identified would require detailed due diligence involving land ownership, engineering, hydrological, environmental and other considerations. They are in the process of developing a cost model that will determine the least cost option for tunneling between two reservoirs, and therefore the location of the lower reservoir.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is proving $449,000 support for an ANU-led feasibility study aimed at developing a nation-wide atlas of potential off-river pumped hydro storage sites.
In other news in Australia, last month Pacific Hydro secured US$500 million in financing for renewable energy projects in operation and under development, including hydro, in Australia and Chile.