Global logistics and energy giant Atco says it has bought the rights to a major pumped hydro project near Bathurst that would be located in the heart of the first of the new renewable energy zones to be created in NSW.
Atco announced on Monday that it had bought the rights to the 325MW Central West Pumped Storage Hydro Project – located near Yetholme about 30kms from Bathurst – from Altura Group. The project will have eight hours of storage, or a potential 2,600MWh of stored energy.
The NSW government is looking to support the creation of up to 2000MW of pumped hydro capacity as part of a series of reverse auctions that will underpin the development of three or four, or even more renewable energy zones to ensure the right infrastructure is installed to replace the state’s ageing coal fleet.
The proposed Central West- Orana Renewable Energy Zone (CWOREZ) is the first of these REZs, and will require the construction of several hundred kilometres of new transmission lines by Transgrid to support up to 3,000MW of new wind and solar.
Atco, which has more than $22 billion of annual revenues, says the move is its first into renewables in Australia – it owns a gas generator in W.A. and a co-generation plant in South Australia.
It says the project will be close to significant wind and solar resources and a 330kV grid connection supporting the Sydney load centre.
“The project has the potential to become an important element of the NSW Government’s CWOREZ through large-scale energy storage and availability of firming contracts for Australia’s burgeoning renewable energy sector,” says Ben Bolot, the head of business development at Atco Australia.
“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 Atco project is one of a number of large pumped hydro projects being considered for NSW – including a 600MW project at Ovens Mountain and a 500MW project at Dungowan Dam. There is also the massive (but controversial) Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro scheme.
The Central West facility would create a new high reservoir near Yetholme and possibly expand on an existing lower reservoir. Both are located on private land held by two different landowners.
Altura’s web site says it will create three gigalitres of storage, but provides little other information, apart from saying it has drawn lessons from the Goat Hill pumped hydro project in South Australia, which is still waiting news of funding.
If the project goes ahead, construction could commence in early 2023 and be in operation in late 2025, creating 200 construction jobs and 30 full time ongoing jobs.