Pumped hydro in Queensland
As the world transforms its energy use, Queensland has the potential to become a renewables and hydrogen superpower, creating new jobs in the growing clean energy economy.
Effective management and planning for this transformation are critical to ensure a secure and reliable energy future for Queenslanders.
The Australian Energy Market Operator has identified that Queensland will need significant energy storage as part of a diverse future energy system. Clean energy storage, including pumped hydro and large-scale batteries, will be crucial to secure Queensland’s energy system in the long term.
To meet Queensland’s future energy demand, the Queensland Government is investigating pumped hydro as a technology to store energy over days, weeks or months.
As the amount of renewable generation grows, pumped hydro will help match energy supply and demand in our network.
Investigating the feasibility of pumped hydro facilities in Queensland has the potential to unlock significant renewable energy resources around our state and support the transformation of our energy system.
What is pumped hydro?
Pumped hydro is a tried and tested technology, accounting for about 97 per cent of energy storage worldwide. It can store a large amount of energy for long periods, making it the perfect backup for other renewable energy sources like solar and wind.
Pumped hydro energy storage is a closed water system that moves water between 2 large reservoirs constructed at different heights to generate and store potential energy.
A pumped hydro generator uses electricity from the grid or nearby renewables to pump water from the lower reservoir into the upper reservoir when energy prices are low. When energy is needed, water is released from an upper reservoir back into the lower reservoir, passing through a turbine.
Watch our animated video to learn more about pumped hydro:
Pumped hydro site investigation
Borumba Dam was selected as the first site for a detailed design and cost analysis. We have also announced Pioneer-Burdekin as the second site for detailed analytical studies.
Both sites were selected after a statewide assessment of potential pumped hydro locations through the Queensland Hydro Study. Various engineering, geological, hydrological, environmental and social studies are currently under way at both sites.
Queensland will need a portfolio of large-scale, long-duration pumped hydro options to support additional renewable generation development (i.e. wind and solar) and deliver low-cost and reliable renewable electricity for Queensland.
Due to the long lead times for pumped hydro projects, extra sites need initial investigation to ensure Queensland has sufficient large-scale energy storage capacity in development.
Together, the Borumba Dam and Pioneer-Burdekin projects could have a combined generation capacity of up to 7 gigawatts.
We have established a publicly owned entity, Queensland Hydro, to develop and deliver the large-scale pumped hydro assets that will be the cornerstone of the state’s energy system.
We are committed to engaging with the community and key stakeholders early and often. Every potential pumped hydro site has unique characteristics, and the community can provide valuable insights to give us a detailed understanding of the project area.
We will work actively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, residents, environmental and business stakeholders, and the broader community, throughout the pumped hydro investigation process to consider stakeholder input and feedback.
For enquiries about pumped hydro in Queensland, contact Queensland Hydro on 1800 875 099.
- Last updated:
- 29 September 2022