EnergyAustralia considers seawater storage solution

2 March 2017

Sian Crampsie

A major Australian energy retailer is investigating the feasibility of developing a seawater pumped storage hydropower plant to support the electricity market in South Australia.

EnergyAustralia says that the proposed 100 MW development would be a cost-effective solution to the state’s growing need for energy storage capacity and also suitable for Australia’s dry conditions.

It would be located in the Spencer Gulf, the firm told the federal government’s Cabinet Energy Committee in February.

“Pumped hydro storage using seawater is just one of the innovations we're looking at to increase Australia’s supplies of cleaner energy,” said EnergyAustralia Managing Director Catherine Tanna. “The technology works like a giant battery. Its great advantage lies in complementing the shift to renewable energy by providing a reliable store of affordable power.

“On hot days, when demand spikes, a pumped hydro plant can be brought into action in minutes, keeping the lights on and costs down. We’re really excited by its potential,” she said.

Ms Tanna said while some proposed projects, like interconnectors, tend to shift reliability issues, energy storage, whether in the form of pumped hydro or batteries, actually solves the problem.

The proposed site on the northern end of the Spencer Gulf has 300 m of elevation and is within 2 km of the coast, close to high voltage transmission lines.

EnergyAustralia and its partners, Arup and the Melbourne Energy Institute, are aiming to have a feasibility study done on the project by the middle of 2017. If the project is viable, detailed engineering design work, environmental impact statements, consultation with stakeholders and applications for government approval will follow.


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