Canadian gas giant Atco has bought the rights to develop the $500m 325 MW Central West Pumped Storage Hydro Project near Yetholme in Central West New South Wales (NSW), Australia. The project marks Atco’s first major move into renewables in the National Energy Market (NEM) and could prove a significant one considering its centrality to the proposed Central West-Orana Renewable Energy Zone (CWOREZ).
The 325 MW pumped storage project will be able to generate 2,600 MWh of stored energy for a period of up to eight hours. The location’s close proximity to copious resources of solar and wind and also a 330 kV grid connection supporting the Sydney load centre makes it an important firming agent to the NSW government’s CWOREZ.
Ben Bolot, Atco Australia’s executive general manager of business development, credited the policy certainty provided by the NSW government’s Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap, for providing Ato the security it needed to invest in such a large scale renewable energy project. It's another strong demonstration that the policy vacuum at the federal level is haemorrhaging potential investment in the renewable space.
“The Central West Pumped Storage Hydro Project will be an integral piece of the puzzle in supporting the development of new renewable generation capacity in NSW and transitioning our energy system,” said Bolot. “Grid stability and security is one of the most pressing issues confronting the energy sector. Pumped storage hydro projects provide the long duration energy solution required to complement the short duration battery projects that have been recently announced. This project is a critical part of securing our energy future and making NSW an attractive location for industry with stable, low cost energy supply as we transition away from carbon based fuels.”
The CWOREZ, currently in its early stages of feasibility testing and planning, is set to be NSW’s first pilot REZ and expected to unlock up to 3 GW of new renewable generation by the middle of the decade. Atco believes its pumped storage project will be a key source of dispatchable power “to ensure the grid is reliable and secure to support the growth of variable renewable energy.”
Atco expects construction on the project to begin in early 2023 and to see operations commence by late 2025.
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