Pumped hydro could power more Upper Hunter homes

26 FEBRUARY 2024

WaterNSW has awarded a development agreement to Upper Hunter Hydro (UHH) to investigate two large pumped hydro projects capable of storing more than 1000 MW for 8-12 hours – as much power as one million household batteries.

As a successful applicant following a competitive tender process under WaterNSW’s Renewable Energy and Storage Program, UHH will get access to areas of WaterNSW land and reservoirs at Glenbawn and Glennies Creek dams outside Scone and Singleton in the Hunter Valley.

The pumped hydro projects, with an opportunity for integrated wind energy, are being led by Upper Hunter Hydro.

WaterNSW CEO Andrew George said the projects are the latest milestones in ongoing efforts to grow sustainability initiatives and identify renewable energy generation and storage opportunities on WaterNSW land and assets.

“We have an opportunity to not only assist the transition to a renewable energy power grid, but to also assist in the creation of jobs, support the local community, and generate revenue to put downward pressure on water costs for customers,” Mr George said.

“We are continuing to assess sites across our portfolio to identify further opportunities.”

Mr George said WaterNSW has been working closely with the NSW Government to ensure the WaterNSW Renewable Energy and Storage Program is aligned with delivering the State’s objectives under the NSW Electricity Strategy.

“Our program fulfils an action of the NSW Pumped Hydro Roadmap of bringing forward private sector investment in pumped hydro schemes,” Mr George said.​

Glenbawn Dam is 10km east of Scone, and Glennies Creek Dam is 28km north of Singleton. The agreement gives UHH access to the sites for investigations to develop the proposal through the feasibility and planning stages. During this initial stage, UHH will seek to secure all necessary approvals and consent for their projects.

If successful, UHH will construct and operate the projects. Should they proceed, UHH estimates the combined projects could potentially generate 1,400 construction jobs, and 80 ongoing operations roles.

UHH Director Mr Turnbull said pumped hydro projects would provide important support for industry and employment in the Hunter. “Australia has abundant wind and solar generation, some of the best in the world. But the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. Pumped hydro provides the long duration energy storage we need to make renewables available 24/7 and secure our clean energy future,” he said.

UHH Director Mr Gill said that at over 1000MW capacity these projects will be much needed additions to Australia’s emerging suite of large energy storage projects. “UHH has a strong environmental sustainability focus and together with proven hydropower technology the projects will bring strong benefits to the region and the grid,” he said.

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