Australian energy retailer EnergyAustralia has updated the federal government on plans for a new pumped hydroelectric storage project using seawater in South Australia.
Managing Director Catherine Tanna and Executive – Energy Mark Collette briefed the Cabinet Energy Committee in Sydney on the progress EnergyAustralia and partners Melbourne Energy Institute and Arup Group have made in the past 12 months investigating a pumped hydro project using seawater.
Located in the Spencer Gulf of South Australia, the proposed project would have the capacity to produce around 100MW with six-to-eight hours of storage.
The project has its origins back in 2013 when Melbourne Energy Institute and Arup started assessing how the technology could be adapted to Australia’s dry conditions using seawater.
“The proposed project for South Australia would not only be the second example of a seawater pumped hydro storage plant anywhere is the world; it would also be the largest,” said Stephen Thompson, Leader Strategy, Policy Advisory for Arup in Australasia.
The proposed site on the northern end of the Spencer Gulf has 300m of elevation and is within 2km of the coast, close to high voltage transmission lines. “It’s the ideal site for pumped hydro energy storage with seawater in South Australia,” said Dr Roger Dargaville, Deputy Director of the Melbourne Energy Institute at the University of Melbourne.
EnergyAustralia and its partners are aiming for the project’s feasibility study to be completed by the middle of 2017. If the project is viable, detailed engineering design work, environmental impact statements, consultation with stakeholders and applications for government approval will follow.
Construction would take around two years, which means the project could be providing peak power to the grid by the summer of 2020/21.