Wednesday, 14 August 2019 12:28

ARENA allocates $40m to fast track SA’s first pumped hydro plant Featured

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ARENA allocates $40m to fast track SA’s first pumped hydro plant Image Stuart Miles, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has allocated $40 million in funding towards the deployment of a Pumped Hydro Energy Storage (PHES) project in South Australia.

ARENA’s funding is aimed at helping to fast track development of South Australia’s first PHES plant.

Four proposed large-scale PHES projects are in development in South Australia and have sought funding, and ARENA says they have been “assessed favourably" under its Advancing Renewables Program.

ARENA says it will invite these projects to put forward proposals for further assessment that outline how the project will reach financial close, and includes their lowest funding request from ARENA.

Post-October receipt of proposals, ARENA will undertake further assessment and due diligence on the four advanced projects to select a single funding recipient, with a funding decision to be made by late this year.

ARENA is working with both the Australian Government’s Underwriting New Generation Investments (UNGI) program which has shortlisted 12 projects including six PHES projects, of which three are in South Australia, and the South Australian Government’s $50 million Grid Scale Storage Fund (GSSF) to support the development of PHES in South Australia.

According to ARENA, as South Australia continues to increase its renewable energy make up, large-scale storage such as PHES and grid-scale batteries are needed to supply system strength, energy reliability and inertia to the region.

And ARENA says the development of a large-scale PHES plant would “balance and firm up” variability in the South Australian National Electricity Market region, providing a range of services to support grid reliability and security – including essential stability services as well as “intra day” storage for six to eight hours duration.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said pumped hydro will play a growing role as the share of renewables increases.

“With 50% of total energy generation in South Australia coming from variable renewable energy in 2018, and an expectation that this will increase in the next two years, there is an increasing requirement for energy storage to firm and balance the system in that state. As part of this, pumped hydro has an important role to play in Australia’s energy transition,” Miller said.

“Several potential pumped hydro projects are being developed in South Australia, which are well advanced and have been rigorously assessed as high merit. Based on the market need and high construction costs, we expect to fund only one project at this stage.

“This funding envelope, and this further assessment, is designed to ensure the best project proceeds with the least Government support.”

ARENA has previously supported a range of PHES feasibility studies including Snowy 2.0, Hydro Tasmania’s Battery of the Nation initiatives that include potential PHES sites, Genex’s Kidston Stage 2 PHES facility in Queensland and the proposed expansion of Origin’s Shoalhaven PHES plant in NSW.

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Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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