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15 GW of pumped hydro announced in Australia

Andrew Blakers's picture
Professor of Engineering Australian National university

Andrew Blakers is Professor of Engineering at the Australian National University. He founded the solar PV research group at ANU. In the 1980s and 1990s he was responsible for the design and...

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  • Sep 29, 2022
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Australia is generating 3 times more solar energy per person than in the USA. Australian Governments have announced about 15 GW of pumped hydro energy storage to support Australia’s rapid build of solar and wind. This is equivalent to about 200 GW in the USA on a per capita basis.

Australia already has three existing pumped hydro systems (Tumut 3, Kangaroo Valley, Wivenhoe). Two more are under construction: Snowy 2.0 (2 GW, 350 GWh) and Kidston-Genex (250 MW, 8 hours).

Additionally, many GW of utility batteries and new transmission is being planned and installed.

  • The Queensland Government announced 34 GW of new solar & wind supported by 7 GW (24 hours) of new pumped hydro, together with utility batteries and improved transmission.

  • The Victorian Government announced that 6 GW of pumped hydro and battery storage will be constructed by 2035.

  • The New South Wales Government announced a rapid shift away from coal towards solar and wind supported by pumped hydro, batteries and transmission.

  • Tasmania’s Battery of the National project awaits approval of an underwater cable across Bass Strait.

  • In Western Australia, rapidly rising rooftop solar and looming closure of coal plant is prompting detailed consideration of pumped hydro and battery storage solutions.

Australia is by far the global leader in per capita generation of solar energy, about 1.2 MWh per person per year. This is DOUBLE its closest rivals (Germany, Japan, Netherlands, Spain, Chile) and TRIPLE the USA. Australia is also a global per capita leader for wind generation.

Australia currently generates about 30% of its electricity from solar & wind. The Government target is 75% from solar & wind in 2030 (plus 7% from existing hydro). This target may be met early because of the compelling economic advantage of solar & wind.

The state of South Australia currently generates 70% of its electricity from solar & wind (zero hydro, nuclear, bio, geo, coal) and is likely to pass 100% in 2026 when a new connector to the east coast is completed that will allow more electricity exports.

Australia is demonstrating straightforward solutions to variability of solar & wind, and offers an economically compelling model for rapid removal of fossil fuels from electricity generation.

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