Canadian energy giant ATCO says it is making progress with a 2,600MWh pumped hydro project near Bathurst, which it hopes to gain a spot in the first renewable energy zone in NSW to go to tender.
The Central West Pumped Hydro (CWPH) project will have a capacity of 325MW, and eight hours storage, or a total of 2,600MWh.
It is going to be located on private land near Yetholme, on Wiradjuri Country about 20kms east of Bathurst, and won’t require any tunnelling or significant underground works.
ATCO has made an application for funding from the NSW governments pumped hydro storage recover age grant program, to conduct a detailed feasibility study, and is in early discussions with off-takers and EPC contractors, and seeking interest in community grants.
“As the exit of the coal fleet in NSW looms, it is important to get the assets we will need to run a decarbonised power system and to hasten the transition – like longer duration firming assets – built and operational at the right time,” said head of business development Ben Bolot.
The CWPH project is located near the edge of the proposed Central West renewable energy zone, which will see offers from around 3GW of wind, solar and storage in the area around Bathurst, Orange and Orana.
However, ATCO is promoting its project as a key link between the zone and the Sydney load centre, and argues it could save up to around $100 million in extra grid costs.
But it’s not the only pumped hydro project in the region, with EnergyAustralia also pushing its Lake Lyell pumped hydro project ,which is located near the lake that supplies its Mt Piper coal fired power station just outside Lismore.
“With some of the markets, power system conditions and revenue streams to support these assets yet to develop, achieving the right mix of resources requires players positioned to take long-term views in an uncertain policy and investing environment,” Bolot said.
“We want to develop a footprint in the NEM that supports and enables the transition to a new, renewable energy future. Ensuring we have a market design that facilitates the right mix of resources is critical.”
ATCO says its facility will be able to deliver critical system strength when pumping and generating, and its quick response time will give a 650MW generation response, increasing transfer capacity from the REZ.
“We estimate that ATCO’s CWPH will save at least $100 million of new investment in synchronous inertia that would otherwise need to be funded by consumers. It will provide inertia and voltage support equivalent to two 150 MVA synchronous condensers at no additional cost to electricity users.”
ATCO is based in Canada and boasts assets of $22 billion and 6,500 employees. It hopes that construction can start in 2023, and says it has preceived significant interest from potential offtake partners.
It will be offering both caps and tolling offtake agreements to counterparties, and is also working on its social licence with the establishment of a community fund that will offer grants of up to $10,000 for local initiatives and programs.