The NSW government has delivered on a $50 million pledge to fund the accelerated development of pumped hydro energy storage projects in the state, with funding secured in the state budget handed down on Tuesday.
The Berejiklian government will establish a Pumped Hydro Recoverable Grants Program, which will aim to support up to 3,000MW of new pumped hydro energy storage projects.
The grants will be designed to support prospective projects to undertake the necessary early-stage planning and development activities, with the funds ultimately recoverable by the NSW government once a project has reached financial close or the development rights have been sold.
To be eligible for the funding support, a pumped hydro storage project must be proposing to build a project with at least 30MW of capacity and 8 hours of storage duration.
The NSW government flagged that $50 million in funding would be set aside to assist the development of pumped hydro projects when it launched its new electricity infrastructure strategy, with storage projects set to support a massive 12GW of potential wind and solar developments over the next 10 years.
“Pumped hydro is a proven form of large-scale storage and NSW has some fantastic pumped hydro opportunities,” NSW water minister Melinda Pavey said at the time.
“This plan delivers the long term certainty needed for the private sector to invest now and drive jobs and investment in the regions.”
The construction of new large-scale energy storage projects was identified as a key priority within the NSW electricity infrastructure strategy, as storage will be key to supporting the exit of the states ageing fleet of coal fired power stations.
“It can take about eight years to deliver these massive projects, so we need to get going now to create jobs and construct the pumped hydro we need to keep the grid reliable,” NSW energy minister Matt Kean said.
“These pumped hydro project grants will give the private sector the incentive they need to invest and invest now.”
The Berejiklian government has also used the budget to top up a number of initiatives aimed at supporting households to meet their energy costs.
This includes an additional $333 million in funding to continue a $285 Low Income Household Rebate, that supports around 900,000 NSW households with their electricity costs, as well as an additional $200 rebate for seniors.
$25 million has been allocated to the Energy Accounts Payments Assistance program, which assists households that have encountered financial hardship and difficulties paying their energy bills.
“We know households and businesses across the State are doing it tough with the financial strain of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Kean added. “On average, eligible households receive around $300 in savings on their electricity bill each year and around $116 in savings on their gas bill each year thanks to our suite of energy rebates.
“We will continue to do everything we can to reduce the hit to the hip-pocket from utility bills and help consumers get their energy bills down.”
As reported by One Step Off the Grid, ahead of the budget, the NSW government announced that it would also fund the deployment of solar power installations across a range of government run health facilities.
This included rooftop solar installations across eight New South Wales hospitals, that is expected to cost $14.5 million, but will save the facilities an estimated $2.6 million each year in reduced energy costs.