Five major pumped hydro energy storage projects and another big battery have received government support in South Australia as the state moves to advance its position as a global renewable energy leader.
The projects, mainly in the state’s Mid North near several large-scale wind and solar projects, would provide more than 1 Gigawatt of generation capacity to the South Australian grid.
Located at reservoirs and disused mine and quarry sites, the projects will generate a total investment of about $1.5 billion, creating an estimated 550 jobs during construction.
The South Australian Government grants come from its $150 million Renewable Technology Fund, which is designed to accelerate the transformation to the next generation of renewable energy technologies.
Pumped hydro storage works by pumping water from a low holding area to an upper reservoir when, potentially renewable, electricity is plentiful and then releasing the water from the upper reservoir through a turbine when demand is high.
The pumped hydro projects to receive the funding are:
The Altura Group proposal, near Port Augusta where several other major renewable projects are planned, is the most advanced of the pumped hydro projects to receive funding.
Altura Group Director Rosahlena Robinson said the project was in the final development phase to support an investment decision during 2018.
“The high level of current and future renewable generation in South Australia is ideally complemented by pumped hydro that can meet not only short term capacity needs, but also sustained energy requirements,” she said.
The GFG Alliance project would further strengthen Executive Chairman Sanjeev Gupta’s position in South Australia, which began last year when the British billionaire’s company Liberty House purchased the struggling Whyalla Steelworks from Arrium. GFG Alliance also bought a 50.1 per cent stake in Adelaide-based solar and storage company ZEN Energy in September before announcing a raft of renewable energy projects including the Middleback Ranges pumped hydro project.
Gupta said the alliance would balance power generated by its large-scale solar projects in Whyalla with despatchable hydropower generated in empty mining pits in the Middleback Ranges.
He said the cost of solar and wind was rapidly declining globally with the evolution of technology and economies of scale.
“However, without a viable large-scale storage solution this revolution is incomplete and unsustainable,” Gupta said.
“A dramatic reduction in power price is the most important ingredient needed for an industrial renaissance in Australia, which GFG is entirely committed to effecting.”
The funding announcement is the latest in a string of renewable energy projects underway in South Australia.
In July, Tesla CEO Elon Musk flew into Adelaide to announce his company would use a $20 million grant from the Renewable Technology Fund partner with French renewable energy company Neoen to build the world’s largest lithium-ion battery (100MW/129MWh) at Neoen’s Hornsdale Wind Farm in the state’s Mid-North.
The following month global company SolarReserve announced it would build a 150MW/1100MWh solar thermal power plant near Port Augusta.
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