OMPS secures funding to study impact of pumped hydro plant on New England REZ


Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has, on behalf of the Australian Government, provided $951K to Oven Mountain Pumped Storage (OMPS) to undertake a study analyzing the benefits that Pumped Hydro Energy Storage (PHES) would have on the development of the New England Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) in northern NSW.

OMPS plans to investigate how its proposed Oven Mountain 600 MW / 7,200 MWh PHES facility between Armidale and Kempsey can provide system-wide benefits, by storing and enabling variable renewable energy generation, improving system strength, unlocking network constraints and helping to reduce marginal loss factors.

The study will examine the degree to which the proposed PHES plant could unlock further renewable energy investment and the development of the proposed New England REZ.

Alinta Energy has partnered with OMPS in the $2.2 million study which is being undertaken with the assistance of consultants Lloyd’s Register, EY and SMEC, along with the involvement of Australian Energy Market Operator and TransGrid.

The study will also inform the development of the Oven Mountain PHES project, which is supported by the NSW Government’s Emerging Energy Program.

If built, the proposed PHES plant could provide system strength to the wind and solar farms in the New England area, provide rapid grid power response and meet requirements during peak demand.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said: “Pumped hydro projects like Oven Mountain can play a key role in the provision of firming up and balancing the grid as increased levels of variable renewable energy generation such as wind and solar come online.

“Renewable Energy Zones like New England are sunny and windy areas with natural renewable energy resources, but they may be in weak areas of the grid. Pumped hydro can provide system security services like frequency and voltage support and it can provide bulk energy storage to help meet the evening peak.”

OMPS director Dr Jeremy Moon said: “Pumped hydro technology evolution can support Australia’s generation transition. With its natural high hydrological head over a distance of around two kilometers, the Oven Mountain site allows for highly responsive synchronous machines to provide grid stability services that have traditionally been provided by fossil fuel generation.”

“We are excited for the opportunity to work with ARENA to demonstrate how pumped hydro can provide large scale storage and support the New England Renewable Energy Zone, networks, system security and increasing levels of low cost, dispatchable power,” he added.

Anela Dokso

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