Queensland starts to search for new pumped hydro, seeks 7GW of storage – EQ Mag Pro
Queensland has allocated $48 million to advance new pumped hydro projects in the state, as part of a newly announced goal to have up to 7GW of pumped hydro capacity to support the switch to renewables.
The announcement came from Treasurer Cameron Dick and energy minister Midk de Brenni during a visit to the 560MW Wivenhoe facility.
A new pumped hydro facility is being built by Genex at Kidston, and Queensland has also identified a 1.5GW, 24 hour facility at Borumba, near Gympie, as a potential site, but is now looking for more.
Queensland has a target of 50 per cent renewables by 2030, but its progress to date has been relatively slow, and it trails all other states with just 20 per cent of its electricity coming from renewables.
The state’s first big battery – a 100MW/150MWh facility at Wandoan – was recently opened and at least another three are planned – by Genex at Bouldercome, and two other batteries commissioned by state utilities CS Energy and Stanwell.
De Brenni said the only way to drive power prices down was to put more renewables and storage into the energy system.
“This was the clear consensus from the national Energy Ministers Meeting this week to address the ongoing global impacts on the energy market,” de Brenni said in a statement.
“Pumped hydro will play a critical role securing the future of Queensland’s energy system with a reliable supply of dispatchable power. As Queensland charges towards its renewable energy target, large-scale storage projects like pumped hydro will enable the continued investment in wind and solar.
He told reporters at Wivenhoe the government was looking for 5-7GW of new storage, indicating a mix of pumped hydro and battery storage. “We’ve already seen $11 billion of investment in wind and solar …. and we will continue to fund more mega projects.”
Queensland is due to release the detail of its Queensland’s Energy Plan later this year which will map out the pathway to 50 per cent renewables.
Depite the slow progress, private players are likely to play a significant role, with Rio Tinto this week putting out a call for 4GW of wind and solar to help power its Queensland smelter and refineries by the end of the decade.
There are multiple mega-projects also proposed by the likes of iron ore billionaire Andrew Forrest to support his green hydrogen plans, and others with similar goals.
Construction recently began on the 1.026GW MacIntyre wind precinct, which will be the largest in Australia when complete.
The Palaszczuk Government will spend $35 million on the search for new storage sites, and has also approved up to $13 million to accelerate key technical studies to enable a final investment decision on the proposed Borumba Pumped Hydro storage project.
“The Borumba Pumped Hydro project has the potential to further strengthen the supply of reliable and affordable energy across Queensland, while also supporting regional jobs and investment,” Dick said in a statement.
“This accelerated funding will ensure all elements are in place to support an informed final investment decision.”
Further Borumba Pumped Hydro community consultation sessions are planned in the second half of 2022.