WaterNSW has recently granted a development agreement to Upper Hunter Hydro (UHH) to explore two significant pumped hydro projects with the capacity to store over 1000MW for 8-12 hours. These projects, situated at Glenbawn and Glennies Creek dams in the Hunter Valley, hold the potential to power more homes in the Upper Hunter region.

As the selected candidate through a competitive process under WaterNSW’s Renewable Energy and Storage Program, UHH will have access to designated areas of WaterNSW land and reservoirs at Glenbawn and Glennies Creek dams near Scone and Singleton. The projects, spearheaded by Upper Hunter Hydro, also present an opportunity for integrated wind energy solutions.

WaterNSW CEO Andrew George emphasized that these initiatives mark significant progress in advancing sustainability efforts and identifying renewable energy generation and storage prospects on WaterNSW properties. 

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

Collaborating closely with the NSW Government, WaterNSW aims to align its Renewable Energy and Storage Program with the State’s objectives outlined in the NSW Electricity Strategy. George underscored that this program aligns with the NSW Pumped Hydro Roadmap's goal of attracting private sector investments in pumped hydro schemes.

Glenbawn Dam, located east of Scone, and Glennies Creek Dam, north of Singleton, will serve as sites for UHH to conduct investigations and progress through feasibility and planning stages. UHH plans to secure all necessary approvals during this phase to move forward with construction and operation if successful.

UHH anticipates that these projects could create around 1400 construction jobs and 80 ongoing operational positions. UHH Director Mr. Turnbull emphasized the crucial role of pumped hydro in supporting industry and employment in the Hunter region. “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.