Pumped hydro schemes, real and unreal

There are three real (working) pumped hydro schemes at present. Numerous others are more or less real depending on the way the proposals proceed. A map with some information about each of the working, under construction, announced and proposed schemes can be found on the RenewEconomy site.

Shoalhaven is a 240MW facility on the Shoalhaven River south of Wollongong. It has been working since the mid ’70s and recently Origin Energy explored the possibility of doubling the capacity but found it was too expensive.

Tumut 3 (1800MW) was built in the early ’70s as a part of the original Snowy scheme.

Wivenhoe (570MW) has been operating since 1984 on the Brisbane River, 80km from the city.

Snowy2.0 and Kidstone (Qld) are under construction. Snowy2.0 is supposed to be commissioned in 2026 to deliver 2000MW for 175 hours. Kidstone (250MW) is expected to come on line in 2023. It is the first pumped hydro facility to be built in several decades,  sited in an old gold mine.

Perry Williams has stepped up to promote the hydro boom.

Simon Kidston’s Genex Power to ride hydro boom

ANNOUNCED.  Dungowan (500MW) is inland from Port Macquarie on the NSW mid-north coast). It is supposed to be operational in 2026 as a part of the NSW Emerging Energy program.

PROPOSED. There are 17 projects in this category. Among them are Muja in WA where Kerry Stokes is discussing the project with the WA government, and Lake Cethana (600MW) that is a part of the Battery of the Nation project in Tasmania. It is expected to work in 2028.

People who are interested in the other more or less unreal proposals can find a very limited amount of information here.

And the NemWatch widget.

UPDATE 

Some cost figures from the Energy Realists.    Conclusions:  This paper has demonstrated that renewables firmed by pumped hydro is massively expensive and high-risk commercially and technically.

The most cost-effective and technically feasible solution is to replace the four
decommissioned coal-fired power stations with modern HELE USC coal plants which
would deliver significant advantages over the firmed renewables strategy.

 

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36 Responses to Pumped hydro schemes, real and unreal

  1. min says:

    Tumult 3 is it profitable to run as I was told by someone in the know when it was constructed that was not .

  2. min says:

    Have a look and see what Germany did with their pumped hydro.

  3. Daily llama says:

    I know all of those SA sites- trapping one of my farts would produce more energy. What a joke.

  4. Rafe Champion says:

    I know they closed down some old schemes but I am not up to date.
    I would like to know about pumped hydro schemes that run on RE alone, it is suggested that they are thin on the ground because most parts of the world have wind droughts.

    As for the cost of pumped hydro, I will update the post with a study from the Energy Realists.

    Conclusions: This paper has demonstrated that renewables firmed by pumped hydro is massively expensive and high-risk commercially and technically.

  5. MikeS says:

    I worked in Tumut 3 for a brief time, many years ago as a student engineer. It seemed clean and modern at the time, but that was 1979. Back then, only three of the six units could run as pumps so unless there has been some serious rejigging – only half of that 1800MW can join the pumped storage New Jerusalem.

    None of this will prevent some numpty suggesting that water going up in the three can be simultaneously run back downhill to generate power in the other three – win-win! A prospectus could be issued for a new subsidy trough – Perpetual Futures!

  6. Robber Baron says:

    Only one political party is advocating for coal powered electricity generation and that party is One Nation.

  7. Boambee John says:

    Most of these schemes seem to be variants on the concept of perpetual motion machines.

  8. Angus Black says:

    Why would you ever pump hydro when, by damming intelligently (ie damming rivers in convenient places) you can let God do the lifting and actually generate electricity?

    Asking for a friend..

  9. Lutz says:

    There is no such thing as ‘free’ or ‘surplus’ electricity.It is generated at the rate that the demand for electricity presents. If you are pumping water uphill, it simply adds to the normal demand – but then wastes 30% in efficiency.

  10. TBH says:

    Why would you ever pump hydro when, by damming intelligently (ie damming rivers in convenient places) you can let God do the lifting and actually generate electricity?

    I’m curious to know where there are suitable sites for hydro on the Australian mainland. Most of the continent is pretty flat. Genuine question, I’m not trying to be a smart arse.

  11. Bogong Village in Victoria has a nice shiny newish station that sits between two older ones on the same pipeline. It’s open once a week and we went to look. Apparently it’s never been switched on, according to the tech who was in attendance.

  12. Mark M says:

    If your government has just built an expensive white elephant hydro station to save the planet by pointlessly lowering carbon (sic) emissions, well … you have just been offset …

    India’s coal output rise by 50million tons in 2021
    https://www.mining.com/india-coal-output-to-rise-6-4-in-2021-report/

    So if your planning on paying twice as much for your electricity generation with hydro, your hydro wouldn’t offset India’s added coal production.

    Check your wallet, you’re being diddled by environmentalists.

  13. Entropy says:

    The rainfall at Kidston (top of the Gilbert River system south Georgetown) is so variable and evaporation so high (I would guess about six feet a year which is typical for the region) most years the main thing it would generate is taxpayer funded subsidies for its owners. It’s near the southern edge of frigging savannah woodland!

  14. Rafe Champion says:

    The point of pumped hydro is to recycle the water and so in theory get over lack of rainfall or snowmelt to fill dams but I don’t think they include evaporation as a factor.

    Don’t blame me, I just work here, but some university nerds have found literally thousands of sites for small pumped hydro across our wide brown land:)

  15. Mark M says:

    If they were counting on snow melt, they aren’t following their 97% ‘science’ …

    “A 2003 CSIRO report, part funded by the ski industry, found that resorts could lose a quarter of their snow in 15 years , and half by 2050.
    The worst case was a 96 percent loss of snow by mid century.”

    https://www.theage.com.au/national/icons-under-threat-the-alps-20051118-ge19jo.html

  16. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    The really fun thing about pumped hydro is that renewable energy is so erratic and intermittent that even pumped hydro can’t react quickly enough.

    How Electricity Became a Luxury Good (2013)

    When the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing, gas-fired power plants and pumped storage stations are supposed to fill the gap. A key formula behind the Energiewende is that the more green energy is produced, the more reserves are needed to avert bottlenecks.

    This is true in theory, but not in practice. On the contrary, an ironic result of the green energy expansion is that many of the reliable pumped storage stations could be forced out of the market. There are roughly 20 of these power plants in Germany, with Vattenfall being the most important operator. The plants were very profitable for utilities for decades, but now the business has become highly unreliable. Dresden is a case in point.

    When it’s sunny and people are most likely to head to the lake, solar power is abundant and electricity prices drop. This means the pumped storage station earns less money, so the power plant is shut off. In 2009, for example, the turbines in Niederwartha were in operation for 2,784 hours. Last year, Vattenfall ran the facility for only 277 hours. “Price peaks that last only a few hours aren’t enough to utilize the plant to full capacity,” says Gunnar Groebler, head of Vattenfall’s German hydro division.

    We see this with AEMO prices which swing crazily from low or even negative to $15,000/kWh within the space of minutes, then go back down again. Great if you can catch the peak but not enough to pay the capital cost and wages for the rest of the time.

    Thanks to another Cat who put me onto this article several weeks ago.

  17. Jock says:

    For years and years environmentalists have railed against new dams. The legal warfare and planning delayshould were legendary even after long droughts. Now suddenly they are all for dams?
    Also note that the taking of water downstream of a dam to re put it in the dam would damage the rivers ecology. Or so environmentalists and greenis have said …..until now.

    What happens in a real drought? What is more essential? Electricity or drinking water? That will be an interesting conundrum.

  18. Boambee John says:

    TBH

    I’m curious to know where there are suitable sites for hydro on the Australian mainland. Most of the continent is pretty flat. Genuine question, I’m not trying to be a smart arse.

    NSW north coast east of the Range. Steep falls and reliable rainfall.

    Also lotssa NIMBYs.

  19. Bruce of Newcastle says:

    In ancient times solar eclipses used to terrify the ignorant people.
    Now solar eclipses terrify the ignorant elites.

    German Power Grids Prepare For Thursday’s Solar Eclipse (9 Jun)

  20. stevem says:

    replace the four decommissioned coal-fired power stations with modern HELE USC coal plants

    The morons quibble about every 0.1% of CO2 emissions, touting electric cars with all their insurmountable problems (https://catallaxyfiles.com/2021/06/07/a-note-on-the-downside-of-electric-vehicles/).
    Changing to HELE would actually see Australia meet its Paris obligations with no further activity! Electricity generation produces about a third of Australia’s CO2 emissions and HELE is about 9 times as efficient for CO2 emissions.
    We’d cut our emissions and give ourselves 50 years of stable electricity production until we could convert to fusion, thorium or xyzium.

  21. Angus Black says:

    @TBH, @Boambe John

    Australia really isn’t all that flat – nor is it dry. And the thing about hydro is that, evaporation apart, there is no actual water usage, just waste potential energy capture.

    The problem is that you’d like to generate fairly close to population centres…and “there be Greenies”. Exploiting Tasmania, which is pretty much chocka with potential sites in accessible but unpopulated areas, led to The Greens’ rise and decades of evil worldwide. God alone knows the impact of attempting to effective sustainable power generation within reach of a school outing/student demo.

  22. Terry says:

    stevem says:
    June 10, 2021 at 9:36 am

    If the goal is cheap, reliable, available, and “cleaner” energy production (we should really not be playing into CO2 hysteria) then HELE is the immediate answer (leading into Nuclear – at least unbanning it and seeing where it goes, without subsidies). HELE stands by itself as more efficient (which is good), the lower CO2 emissions are simply a by-product of that efficiency.

    BUT, that is not the goal. The goal is grift and control. How can the most wealth be transferred from the pockets of citizens into those of the grifters as a side-hustle to the main game of wielding complete, total, and utter control over every aspect of the lives of their serfs (to save humanity, and the planet of course – any necessary veil to disguise their abject evil and depravity as a moral virtue).

    These are bad people. They need to be dealt with as bad people.

    You cannot expect logical and good decisions from these people. Their goals are not the same as those of a good and just society – their goals are diametrically opposed; which is why we continue to suffer under the weight of bad decision-making (it is by design).

  23. Angus Black says:

    There’s a missing “generate” in that last sentence.

  24. RobK says:

    TBH,
    I’m curious to know where there are suitable sites for hydro on the Australian mainland.
    The study done by some boffins (that Rafe referred to up-page), reckons there are over 3000 suitable sites around the country (iirc). Many along the coast using salt water. Some disused mines. I very much doubt these can turn a profit unless electricity is very expensive. Fighting corrosion, evaporation, seepage and isolation is problematic.Don’t have a link but shouldn’t be hard to find the report, it got wide coverage at the time.

  25. Boambee John says:

    RobK

    I thought it was 30,000 sites? Every annual creek and river nationwide?

  26. RobK says:

    BJ,

    Australia has enough untapped pumped hydro energy storage potential to support a 100 per cent renewable energy grid – 35 times over, a team of Australian National University researchers has found.

    The ANU team – led by one of Australia’s key solar PV innovators, Professor Andrew Blakers – said this week it has so far mapped roughly 5,000 potential pumped hydro energy storage sites around the country, and hopes to identify hundreds more, as part of an ARENA funded study.

    https://reneweconomy.com.au/australias-pumped-hydro-storage-potential-worth-thousands-tesla-big-batteries-32690/

  27. Boambee John says:

    RobK

    Thanks.

  28. Rafe Champion says:

    I thought it was more than 20,000 but I was afraid to say it.

    I think they found a heap in Tasmania, on inspection, yes 2,050 sites!

    They must have counted any decent sized hill with a river or creek in the vicinity.

    Imagine the transmission lines! And the traffic in the bush to instal them. Not to mention the supporting wind and solar capacity to generate power for the pumps, losing 30 or 40% of the generation on the way.

  29. RobK says:

    ….not to mention seepage and rock slips
    http://www.environmentandsociety.org/arcadia/expecting-disaster-1963-landslide-vajont-dam

    Though the dam incorporated the latest technical expertise, it had been built without due consideration of geological reports, possible tectonic problems, local knowledge of the territory and Monte Toc’s connate instability.

  30. Kneel says:

    “There is no such thing as ‘free’ or ‘surplus’ electricity.It is generated at the rate that the demand for electricity presents. If you are pumping water uphill, it simply adds to the normal demand – but then wastes 30% in efficiency.”

    This is certainly true, but misses the point – excess generation capacity (that is, some of the “headroom”, where, eg a 600MW gen is only running at 400MW) can be absorbed by pumped hydro, and this (pumped hydro) can be load-shed easily and quickly enough if needed. This usage (using the “headroom”) improves station efficiency (more power for same fuel burnt), because the ancillaries (cooling water pumps, coal crushers, coal conveyors etc) are required regardless, and will consume a certain minimum amount of power – the additional to run the extra power output is not a linear extrapolation of the least output amount, and the thermodynamic efficiency peak is designed to be at maximum rated output (most coal gens can go as much as 50% over rated output, BTW)

  31. TBH says:

    RobK, Angus and BJ: thanks for the info. Appreciate it.

  32. wazz says:

    [1] Genex has been unable this year to commission the full 48MW at the Jemalong solar PV plant near Forbes. Big talkers – v slow doers.
    http://nemlog.com.au/show/unit/20210520/20210619/?k1=JEMALNG1

    2] The refr to Dungowan is puzzling because the existing Dungowan Dam is said to be “de-commissioned” when the newer dam is built downstream.

  33. Angus Black:

    The problem is that you’d like to generate fairly close to population centres…and “there be Greenies”. Exploiting Tasmania, which is pretty much chocka with potential sites in accessible but unpopulated areas, led to The Greens’ rise and decades of evil worldwide. God alone knows the impact of attempting to effective sustainable power generation within reach of a school outing/student demo.

    When the grid collapses because of the Green stupidity, the environmentalists will be hanging from the now non functioning power poles as people start to riot because there’s no food in the shops and their cards won’t work and nor will their ipads.
    And I won’t lift a finger to help.
    I’m utterly over these arrogant idiots who have no idea of the problems they are facing.

  34. Robert Wood says:

    And some of these proposed pumped hydro projects plan to use seawater as the medium. And of course there’s never been any catastrophic dam failures in the past (sarc.).
    I’m not sure if there’s any projects slated near the Barossa Valley, but if there were and I was a vinyard owner, I’d be very concerned. It would only take one major spill to basically “salt the Earth”.

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