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    22,000 potential pumped hydro sites identified in Australia

    The Australian National University (ANU) has found 22,000 potential pumped hydro energy sites (PHES) across Australia.

    According to these findings, officially released in September, the sites have a combined energy storage potential of around 67,000 Gigawatt-hours (GWh). Utilising this storage capacity could help support a national zero-emissions electricity grid – not only that, but only a small portion of the available storage capacity would be required to achieve a zero-emissions outcome for the country.

    “Australia needs only a tiny fraction of these sites for pumped hydro storage – about 450 GWh of storage – to support a 100 percent renewable electricity system,” says professor Andrew Blakers from the ANU Research School of Engineering.

    “We found so many good potential sites that only the best 0.1 percent [which equates to approximately 20 sites] will be needed. We can afford to be choosy.”

    The research looked for pairs of dams with an altitudinal difference of more than 250 metres. Their criteria excluded residential areas, national parks and other sensitive places. Suitable sites were identified using a geographic information system (GIS).

    ANU have published an atlas with maps of each state/territory, indicating the potential sites. This is accompanied by a report.

    The number of potential sites in each state and territory is shown in the table below:

     

    Approximate number of sites

    Approximate energy storage capacity (GWh)

    Minimum head (m)

    NSW/ACT

    8,600

    29,000

    300

    Victoria

    4,400

    11,000

    300

    Tasmania

    2,050

    6,000

    300

    Queensland

    1,770

    7,000

    300

    South Australia

    195

    500

    300

    Western Australia

    3,800

    9,000

    200

    Northern Territory

    1,550

    5,000

    200

    TOTAL

    22,000

    67,000

     

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