Australian National University report reveals sites for pumped hydro storage in New England North West

MP Adam Marshall.
MP Adam Marshall.

The New England North West is home to a number of sites that could be suitable for pumped hydro storage, an Australian National University study has revealed.

The study, released on Thursday, found NSW has the most prospective locations in Australia with more than 1,000 in the north and around 8,500 across the state.

Multiple sites have been discovered near Hillgrove, Gara Gorge, Red Range, off the Gwydir Hwy near Glen Innes and between Tamworth and Uralla.

Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall said historically our region has led the way in harnessing water flow and generating hydro-electricity. 

“In fact, one of Australia’s earliest hydro-electric installations was the 1895 Gara River scheme which delivered power to Hillgrove and made it the first town in Australia to be lit by hydro-generated power in February of that year,” he said. 

“The Oaky Zone Hydro-electric power station 50km east of Armidale was commissioned by the New England County Council in the mid-1950s.”

The current study, led by Professor Andrew Blakers, found more than 22,000 possible sites across the country.

Australia needs only a tiny fraction of these sites ... to support a 100 per cent renewable electricity system.

Professor Andrew Blakers

“Australia needs only a tiny fraction of these sites for pumped hydro storage, about 450 GWh of storage, to support a 100 per cent renewable electricity system,” Professor Blakers said on Thursday.

Co-researcher Dr Matthew Stocks said pumped hydro, which accounts for 97 per cent of energy storage worldwide, has a lifetime of 50 years and is the lowest cost large-scale energy storage technology available.

Mr Marshall said he has recently met with the proponent of a new pumped hydro project in our region that will be one of largest in NSW. 

“It’s an exciting concept and I’m looking forward to plans being lodged soon for approval by the NSW Government,” he said.

“We have the sun, the wind and the water – let’s get cracking and lead the way once again.”


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