ANU study finds 22,000 potential pumped hydro sites in Australia

21 September 2017

Australia could have a potential storage capacity of 67,000GWh from 22,000 potential pumped storage sites, a new study by the Australian National University (ANU) has found.

The ANU has completed an audit of the 22,000 possible sites across Australia, which can be used to support a secure and cheap national electricity grid with 100 per cent renewable energy.

Lead researcher Professor Andrew Blakers said the short-term off-river pumped hydro energy storage (STORES) sites combined had much more than the capacity required for a zero-emissions grid.

"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," said Professor Blakers from the ANU Research School of Engineering.

"Fast tracking the development of a few of the best sites by 2022 could balance the grid when Liddell and other coal power stations close.

"Pumped hydro storage, including Snowy 2.0, can be developed fast enough to balance the grid with any quantity of variable wind and solar PV power generation, including 100 per cent renewable energy.

"We found so many good potential sites that only the best 0.1 per cent will be needed. We can afford to be choosy."

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) provided $449,000 to support the ANU-led study.

Maps showing the locations of potential STORE sites and a report on the findings are available here. The number of potential sites potential sites found in each state and territory are:

  • NSW/ACT: 8600 sites, 29,000GWh           
  • Victoria: 4400 sites, 11,000GWh           
  • Tasmania: 2050 sites, 6000GWh
  • Queensland: 1770 sites, 7000GWh           
  • South Australia: 185 sites, 500GWh
  • Western Australia: 3800 sites, 9000GWh
  • Northern Territory: 1550 sites, 5000GWh

All of the potential STORES sites were outside national parks and urban areas, and each site had a storage potential range of 1-300 GWh.

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