The Australian National University (ANU) has completed an audit of 22,000 potential sites across Australia for pumped hydro energy storage, which can be used to support a secure and cheap national electricity grid with 100 per cent renewable energy.
The zero-emissions grid would mainly rely on wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) technology, with support from pumped hydro storage, and would eliminate Australia’s need for coal and gas-fired power. Lead researcher Professor Andrew Blakers said the short-term off-river pumped hydro energy storage (STORES) sites combined had a potential storage capacity of 67,000 Gigawatt-hours (GWh) – much more than the capacity required for a zero-emissions grid.
“Australia needs only a tiny fraction of these sites for pumped hydro storage – about 450 GWh of storage – to support a 100 per cent renewable electricity system,” said Professor Blakers from the ANU Research School of Engineering.
Fast tracking the development of a few of the best sites by 2022 could balance the grid when Liddell and other coal power stations close.