Renewable Energy and Storage Program


The Renewable Energy and Storage Program signals WaterNSW’s commitment to be a socially and environmentally responsible organisation.

It also reflects our innovative thinking in delivering outcomes in the best interests of the environment, our customers and local communities. By leveraging our land and assets, WaterNSW is helping facilitate long duration storage and generation projects that have the potential to play a key role in the energy market’s transition to low emission technologies. Working collaboratively with the NSW Government, the program is designed to complement other government initiatives and assist in achieving the state’s objectives for an affordable, secure and low emission energy market.

As a state-owned corporation, WaterNSW will earn lease and dividend payments from the project operation. Income received will help to offset WaterNSW operations costs, putting downward pressure on prices for customers, and providing value to the people of NSW through WaterNSW’s dividend return to government.

Many of the potential projects will be regionally based and provide economic and job opportunities for those areas.

Projects will not impact the amount of water available for water users, including WaterNSW customers, or the environment.

WaterNSW’s core function of delivering water, when and where it matters, will not be affected.


Expressions of interest were invited from the private sector to develop commercially viable, large-scale renewable energy and storage projects.

Through a competitive tender process, WaterNSW evaluated proposals against requirements including the contribution to future energy security, compatibility with WaterNSW assets and operations, approach to heritage projection and opportunities for First Nations people and maximising the value of the state’s investment in WaterNSW.

WaterNSW is now enabling the development of pumped hydro and wind farm projects and successful projects have been offered a Development Agreement which provides access to WaterNSW land and other arrangements to support the development of the projects.

All development and construction costs associated with the projects will be borne by the developer; WaterNSW has simply awarded the contracts for the right to develop the projects on WaterNSW owned land and water.

If they are constructed, the projects will play important roles in assisting with the delivery of the state’s energy ambitions as well as playing a critical role in helping to deliver energy consumers in NSW a secure and reliable network.

Learn about the process WaterNSW has undertaken and the progress to date.


Frequently asked questions

What is pumped hydro and how does it work?

Pumped hydro is a highly efficient and reliable method of storing and generating electricity and plays a crucial role in NSW’s transition towards a more sustainable and renewable energy future.

Pumped hydro harnesses the power of gravity and water to store and generate electricity efficiently.

Water is pumped uphill from a lower storage reservoir to an upper reservoir through underground tunnels using renewable energy sources. This water is then released back down to generate renewable electricity, via power generating turbines, that is stored in large water driven battery.

By using the movement of water to produce renewable energy, it can be stored and used when needed. Another feature is the closed loop system used to move water between the lower and upper reservoir. This means the same volume of water cycled back and forth and there is no net loss of water from pumped hydro.

WaterNSW is pleased to be able to leverage our land and assets to facilitate pumped hydro energy storage projects.

What are the benefits of pumped hydro in the development of renewable energy?

Pumped hydro supports NSW’s 2050 net zero emissions target by replacing fossil-fuel powered electricity with large-scale, reliable renewable energy generation that is available on demand.

A modern energy grid that is powered by renewables should be capable of providing energy on-demand to consumers.

Being able to store energy allows a pumped hydro plant to reduce price spikes and the risk of power-supply interruptions caused by insufficient supply, and with a lifespan 70-100 years, pumped hydro projects can last five times longer than other current battery systems, supporting on-going future power supply.

Why is pumped hydro required?

NSW’s energy system is going through an energy transformation driven by the exit of coal and other emissions intensive generation sources. The NSW Government has signalled that over the next 15 years, four of the five coal fired power stations which currently provide around three quarters of the State’s energy supply, will retire.

Intermittent renewable energy, including solar and wind generation, will in large part replace this generation and will play an important role in helping the NSW Government’s ambitions to reach net zero emissions by 2050. However, the variability of generation from intermittent renewable sources, means that it is not necessarily available on demand.

Investment in complementary forms of short and long duration electricity storage, such as pumped hydro, is therefore important to ensure surplus renewable energy can be stored and to ‘even out’ fluctuations’ in generation. Furthermore, pumped hydro energy storage provides a range of essential network services that may not be able to be provided by intermittent renewable energy sources. These play a critical role in helping to deliver NSW energy consumers a secure and reliable network.

Does the project consume more electricity than it generates?

Pumped hydro has long been recognised as both a very efficient and effective part of electricity systems, balancing times of low and high electricity supply from variable energy sources, whilst also assisting grid reliability and stability. This is increasingly important in regions where intermittent renewables (large scale wind and solar farms) produce a large proportion of the region’s electricity consumption.

As more electricity is needed to pump the water up the hill than is produced moving the water down the hill, the facility is a net user of electricity. However, these plants are incredibly efficient (at around 80%) and can be made available in only a matter of minutes, making it very competitive with other energy storage options such as battery storage.


Renewable Energy and Storage Program enquiries should be directed to:

WaterNSW Renewable Energy and Storage Program Engagement team
Phone: 0427 403 620

WaterNSW Media enquiries should be directed to:

Tony Webber, WaterNSW Manager Media
Phone: 02 9685 4350

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WaterNSW acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands and waters on which we work and pay our respects to all elders past, present and emerging. Learn more