According to the researchers’ analysis at the ANU – Australian National University – Australia is capable of storing a lot more renewable energy, even thousand times more than it would conceivably ever need.
The engineering professor of ANU – Andrew Blakers- conducted a study and visited the hydro pump sites. After the analysis, he confidently concluded that there are almost 22,000 locations across Australia that are extremely suitable for the purpose.
The professor suggested that even if Australia utilizes a tiny fraction of these locations, the country will be able to transit 100% renewable power in just two decades.
“No matter where you are in Australia, you will find a good pumped hydro site not very far away from where you, or your wind or your solar farm is located. We only need to about one or two dozen to support a 100 percent renewable electricity grid” – said Blakers
The fellow engineering researcher Mathew Stocks also said that the pumped hydro facility is capable of providing maximum power in between five hours in one day. And power can easily and quickly be dispatched to the grid in times of need.
Dr. Stock stated;
“It can go from zero to full power in about one minute”
The pumped hydro technology is not new
The system of pumped hydro in itself is not new, in 1970 the same facility was started at the power station – Tamut 3, at Talbingo in New South Wales.
Besides this, pumped hydro technology is being used by many other countries and is widespread in the alpine parts of Italy and Europe. Countries like France, Germany and the Scandinavian countries such as Norway, as well as the United States and Japan, are too, making use of this technology.
Blakers believes that if the investment in terms of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind increases across Australia, the pumped hydro storage need will grow.
“We have so little solar and wind in the system at the moment that we don’t need the storage. Maybe now South Australia, at 50 percent wind and solar PV, is just getting to the stage where it does need either strong interconnection or a pumped hydro or both. But the other states will catch up and will be at the 50 percent level by the early 2020s I think, so they also need to start planning with pumped hydro now.”- said Blakers
Australia can become completely electrified in just two decades
Both the engineering professors found that the density of these pumped hydro sites is mostly in New South Wales. They estimated that the potential of these sites is to create 29,000 giga watt hours of storage capacity across as many sites as 8,600.
However, Josh Frydenberg – Energy and Environment Minister – welcomed the findings and confirmed that the Government has already been delivering major expansions in terms of the Snowy Hydro scheme along with ongoing feasibility studies in South Australia, Tasmania, and Queensland.
He further indicated that the Australian government is striving for many flexible capacity projects which include pumped hydro along with new and priority funding for large-scale storage.