The results of a feasibility study are eagerly awaited as a massive hydro project in the New England gets declared ‘Critical State Significant Infrastructure’.
The billion dollar Oven Mountain Pumped Hydro project, planned near Armidale and Kempsey, is currently undergoing a $2.2 million study feasibility study conducted by Australian Renewable Energy Agency.
New England MP Barnaby Joyce and Energy and Emissions Reduction minister Angus Taylor welcomed the announcement declaring the project critical to the state, saying the Coalition’s early investment has made it a reality.
The study is currently determining how the proposed facility could support system strength in Queensland and northern NSW by storing and enabling renewable energy generation.
The study is also examining how much more energy investment would be unlocked in the region as a result.
If proven feasible, it will create anywhere from 600 to 1000 jobs during construction, with a further 30 ongoing jobs once the plant is completed and commissioned.
Mr Joyce said thanks to the Coalition Government’s early investment, pumped hydro energy storage in the New England Renewable Energy Zone could be a reality.
“We’ve made massive investments in New England in renewable energy, in fact we’re one of the biggest renewable energy hubs in Australia,” Mr Joyce said.
“Just like the Inland Rail, others talked about it for years and I made sure it happened.
“Likewise, others have talked about the use of this water resource for years and I’m making sure we are taking the first steps to getting it done.”
Mr Taylor said pumped hydro projects like Oven Mountain can help to firm up and balance the grid as increased levels of intermittent renewable energy generation such as wind and solar come online.
The project would use two natural granite basins as a battery, pumping water uphill with surplus power and converting gravity into energy during an electricity shortage.
With 600 megawatts of capacity and six hours of generation, the scheme would compliment existing renewable power generators in the New England area.