Origin to advance Shoalhaven expansion to full feasibility study

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The Shoalhaven pumped hydro scheme, which has been delivering renewable power to the New South Wales grid for more than forty years, could double in size in the future and provide an insight into hydro pumped storage workings that could be applied to other such projects across Australia.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has announced $2 million in funding for Origin Energy to assess the feasibility of expanding the Shoalhaven Pumped Hydro Scheme.

If the $6.8 million full feasibility study is successful, this proposal would nearly double the capacity from the existing 240 MW to 475 MW.

The Shoalhaven Pumped Hydro Storage Scheme consists of two pumped storage hydropower stations at Kangaroo Valley and Bendeela, located 150 kilometres south of Sydney in the NSW Southern Highlands.

Earlier this year, Origin detailed several options to expand Shoalhaven, with the feasibility study to focus on a preferred option to nearly double the plant’s overall generating capacity via a single 235 MW generating unit housed in an underground power cavern.

“Shoalhaven is in the unique position of having much of the required infrastructure needed for expansion already in place,“ Origin executive general manager energy supply and operations Greg Jarvis said.

“This is a strong prospect for future expansion, because Shoalhaven can feed electricity into the grid in as little as three minutes, therefore improving reliability and complementing growing intermittent renewables in the system.“

“We will now get on with important assessments and the necessary regulatory approvals that may allow us to double Shoalhaven’s generating capacity in the future.”

Commenting on the funding announcement, ARENA CEO Darren Miller the proposed expansion would help provide large-scale storage and would inform other pumped hydro developments.

“The findings of this study at Shoalhaven will help provide key understandings that can be applied to other hydro energy projects ARENA has supported such as Snowy 2.0, Hydro Tasmania’s Battery of the Nation initiatives, Kidston in Queensland, Cultana and the Iron Duchess in South Australia,” Miller said.

“We know that storage technologies – both pumped hydro and batteries – will be key to the transition to renewable energy in Australia, which is why we’re supporting projects such as this that will help deliver secure and reliable electricity,” Miller said.

The detailed feasibility assessment that will include technical and environment studies as well as regulatory approvals is expected to be completed in 2019.