Pumped hydro in Queensland
As the world transforms its energy use, Queensland has the potential to become a renewables and hydrogen superpower, creating new jobs in the growing clean energy economy. Effective management and planning for this transformation is critical to ensure a secure and reliable energy future for Queenslanders.
The Australian Energy Market Operator has identified that Queensland will need significant energy storage as part of a diverse future energy system. Clean energy storage, including pumped hydro and large-scale batteries, will be crucial in securing Queensland’s energy system in the long-term.
To meet Queensland’s future energy demand, the Queensland Government is investigating pumped hydro as a technology to store energy over days, weeks or months. As the amount of renewable generation grows, pumped hydro will help match energy supply and demand in our network throughout the day and also between seasons.
Investigating the feasibility of pumped hydro facilities in Queensland has the potential to unlock significant renewable energy resources around our state and support the transformation of our energy system.
What is pumped hydro?
Pumped hydro is a tried and tested technology, accounting for about 97% of energy storage world-wide. It can store a large amount of energy for long periods of time, making it the perfect back-up for other renewable energy sources like solar and wind.
Pumped hydro energy storage is a closed water system that moves water between two large reservoirs constructed at different heights to generate and store potential energy.
To operate, a pumped hydro generator uses electricity from the grid or nearby renewables to pump water from the lower reservoir into the upper reservoir when energy prices are low. When energy is needed, water is then released from an upper reservoir back into the lower reservoir, passing through a turbine.
Watch our animated video to learn more about pumped hydro:
Pumped hydro site investigation
Borumba Dam was selected as the first site for a detailed design and cost analysis following a state-wide assessment of potential pumped hydro locations through the Queensland Hydro Study. A range of engineering, geological, hydrological, environmental and social studies are currently under way.
Queensland will need a portfolio of large-scale, long duration pumped hydro options to support additional renewable generation development (i.e. wind and solar) and deliver low cost and reliable renewable electricity for Queensland. The long lead times for pumped hydro projects means that extra sites require initial investigation to ensure Queensland has sufficient large-scale energy storage capacity in development.
The Queensland Government has allocated $35 million for engineering design, environmental and social analytical studies and cost analysis to identify a second potential pumped hydro energy storage site in Queensland. Studies will commence with a desktop analysis of potential sites, followed by specific site-based investigations, environmental and social assessments, engineering design and cost analysis.
The Queensland Government is committed to engaging early and often with the community and key stakeholders. Every potential pumped hydro site has unique characteristics and the community provides valuable insights to inform a detailed understanding of the project area.
The Queensland Government will actively work with First Nations, residents, environmental and business stakeholders, as well as the broader community throughout the pumped hydro investigation process to ensure stakeholder input and feedback is considered.
For enquiries about pumped hydro in Queensland contact the Queensland Government on 13 QGOV (13 74 68).
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- Last updated:
- 10 June 2022