GE agreement with Walcha Energy to accelerate 500 MW pumped hydro storage project

18 August 2020

GE Renewable Energy and Walcha Energy have signed an agreement to jointly develop the 500 MW Dungowan pumped hydro storage project in the New England Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. Under the agreement, GE Renewable Energy’s Hydro Solutions business will provide Walcha Energy with technical and commercial support to accelerate the development of the Dungowan pumped hydro plant, which plays a pivotal role in the energy transition for New South Wales and Australia.

“The Dungowan Pumped Hydro Storage Power Plant will help facilitate new wind and solar projects and provide firming and grid support services at a critical point on the Australian National Electricity Market. The project represents a unique opportunity to tap into a high-head site, in close proximity to an existing reservoir. It is strategically located between retiring coal capacity to the south and emerging wind and solar capacity to the east, west and north,” said Simon Currie, managing director at Energy Estate, one of the partners in Walcha Energy.

Overall, the Walcha Energy Project has the potential to produce more than 4 GWe from renewable sources. The Dungowan plant is intended to anchor the broader development and ensure that the additional wind and solar resources can be reliably and safely fed into the grid. Hydropower plays a decisive role in the energy transition. Today, 95% of all stored energy in the world is provided by hydro storage, which has a storage capacity is up to 100 times higher than that of any available battery solutions. 

“Nearly half of the more than 8 GW of hydropower capacity operating in Australia today is powered by our turbines, generators or both. However, it has been many years since new hydro capacity was built in Australia, so GE … is … proud to be at the forefront of the next wave of Australian hydropower capacities,” said Pascal Radue, CEO of GE Renewable Energy Hydro Solutions.

The New England REZ is one of the largest renewable energy zones in Australia and has been designated as a strategic priority by the NSW Government. The Walcha Energy project has the potential to provide up to 15% of NSW’s power requirements. The Dungowan pumped hydro storage power plant would provide about 2% of that power.

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