Australian state announces world’s ‘biggest pumped hydro scheme’


From pv magazine Australia

The Australian state of Queensland has revealed plans to build two massive pumped hydro facilities, including one that could provide 5 GW of storage.

“These are projects of national significance on a scale not seen since the construction of Snowy Hydro – bigger than Snowy Hydro,” said Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

The 2 GW Borumba Pumped Hydro project near Brisbane has been in the cards for some time and is scheduled for completion by 2030. The scale of the bigger Pioneer-Burdekin pumped hydro project was only revealed this week.

“It will be the largest pumped hydro energy storage in the world, with 5 GW of 24-hour storage and the potential for stage 1 to be completed by 2032,” said Palaszczuk, noting that the preferred site for the project is near Mackay.

As part of the plan, the Queensland government is now aiming for 70% of the state's energy supply to come from renewable energy by 2032, and 80% by 2035. These targets will be legislated, said the premier. For reference, currently less than one-quarter of Queensland’s electricity comes from renewables.

The Queensland government also plans to convert its publicly owned coal power stations to clean energy hubs from 2027.

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“Infrastructure at the clean energy hubs will include: continuing to use the large spinning turbines at the power stations to provide strength for the energy system to take more renewables; grid scale batteries; gas and then later hydrogen power stations; and maintenance hubs for nearby government-owned renewable wind and solar farms,” said Palaszczuk.

The plan includes a vision for a “Queensland SuperGrid” to connect solar, wind, battery and hydrogen generators across the state. This will unlock 22 GW of new renewable capacity, said the government.

“It is about turbo-charging new investment in new minerals, batteries and manufacturing,” said Palaszczuk.

Kane Thornton, CEO of the Clean Energy Council, praised the Queensland energy plan.

“This is a bold and transformational plan that will set Queensland up to be a world leader on clean energy,” said Thornton.

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