GE Renewable Energy has signed an agreement to jointly develop the 500MW Dungowan pumped hydro storage project with Australia’s Walcha Energy, which it says will enable the construction of the local develper’s giant 4GW wind and solar complex in New South Wales.
“Nearly half of the more than 8GW of hydropower capacity operating in Australia today is powered by our turbines, generators or both,” said Pascal Radue, chief executive of GE Renewable Energy Hydro Solutions.
“However, it has been many years since new hydro capacity was built in Australia, so GE Renewable Energy is excited to be at the forefront of the next generation of Australian hydropower capacities.”
The renewable energy complex, called New England Renewable Energy Zone, is slated to combine 3.4GW in wind power and 700MW in solar power with a 100MW battery storage system, as well as the Dungowan pumped hydro storage plant.
New England Renewable Energy Zone’s first wind farm, the 700MW Winterbourne project that is majority-owned by GE rival Vestas, is expected to start operations in 2022.
The Dungowan pumped hydro storage is intended to anchor the broader development and provide the flexibility needed to reliably feed electricity into the grid despite the intermittency of wind and solar power, said the partners.
“The Dungowan pumped hydro storage power plant will help facilitate new wind and solar projects and provide firming and grid support services at a critical point on the Australian National Electricity Market,” said Simon Currie, managing director at Energy Estate, one of the partners in Walcha Energy.
“The project represents a unique opportunity to tap into a high-head site, in close proximity to an existing reservoir. It is strategically located between retiring coal capacity to the south and emerging wind and solar capacity to the east, west and north.”
The Walcha Energy project has the potential to provide up to 15% of New South Wales’ power requirements. The Dungowan pumped hydro storage power plant would provide about 2% of that power, enough to supply roughly 125,000 households with electricity, GE said.