Opportunities for Pumped Hydro in Australia

Pumped hydroelectricity energy storage (PHES) is by far the most significant form of large-scale energy storage in use around the world today with approximately 130 GW of generation capacity installed. PHES facility construction is resurging globally as evolving electricity supply systems place greater value on stored energy. Australia has approximately 1.5 GW of PHES capacity; however, no large-scale facilities have been installed in the last 30 years. This paper examines opportunities for the construction of additional large-scale PHES facilities in Australia. 

With PHES, energy is stored by pumping water from a lower reservoir to a second reservoir at a higher elevation. This stored potential energy is later converted to electricity by passing the stored water through an electricity-generating turbine and returning the water to the lower reservoir. Used overseas since the 1890’s and in Australia since 1973, PHES has in recent decades been used to balance times of low and high electricity demand in grids that employ constantly-loaded nuclear or coal-fired electricity generation.

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Patrick Hearps, Roger Dargaville, Dylan McConnell, Mike Sandiford, Tim Forcey, Peter Seligman

Melbourne Energy Institute

Reports and working papers

Research Areas:
Energy storage; Energy systems; Pumped hydroelectric

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