The Oven Mountain Pumped Hydro Energy Storage (OMPS PHES) project will undertake a study analysing the benefits of a 600 megawatt (MW) ‘off-river’ PHES facility in the New England Renewable Energy Zone (REZ), with up to 12 hours storage.
The OMPS New England PHES Benefits Study acknowledges that the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has identified an increasing need for flexible, dispatchable electricity generation sources to bridge the energy reliability gap and firm up variable renewable generation.
NSW is expected to lose 86 per cent of its coal-fired generation capacity by 2040. AEMO modelling indicates an increased likelihood of loss of electricity supply impacting up to 770,000 NSW customers from 2023 onwards as existing coal retires and reliability declines.
Furthermore, low cost renewables such as wind and solar are increasingly supplying our needs but these variable sources of generation need to be ‘firmed up’ by fast response generation that can be turned on and off as required.
There is also an immediate need to unlock constrained electricity network areas to allow new generation onto the grid. The New England REZ has an estimated 3,800 MW of renewable opportunities but only 300 MW of grid capacity remains in the system. This REZ, like other areas on the grid, requires more system strength and security services. A lack of these services constrain existing and inhibit further deployment of low-cost renewables.
Media Release: Pumped Hydro Plant Could Unlock New England Renewable Energy Zone
ARENA announced funding to Oven Mountain Pumped Storage Pty Ltd to undertake a study analysing the benefits that Pumped Hydro Energy Storage would have on the development of the New England Renewable Energy Zone in northern NSW.
PHES is a well known source of flexible, dispatchable generation.PHES sites, like the Oven Mountain scheme, could provide large-scale and long storage duration benefits in well-located areas of the electricity grid.
The OMPS PHES development has the potential to support NSW energy reliability, unlock renewable energy generation and alleviate grid congestion.
The project will study the benefits of PHES in the New England REZ and, more broadly, the benefit of PHES to the National Electricity Market (NEM). The project seeks to:
- map current and future network limitations in the New England REZ based on existing data and augmentation plans
- model various scenarios with and without PHES technology capabilities and conduct sensitivity studies to
- understand the impact of PHES on supporting networks and the deployment of renewable energy
- study the level of variable renewable energy generation potentially unlocked in each scenario, the resulting marginal loss factor (MLF) impact, and network impacts.
This will require input from TransGrid, AEMO, and utilise the expertise of project consultants, EY and Lloyd’s Register.
This project is expected to:
- quantify the level of variable renewable energy that could be unlocked within the New England REZ through the presence of the Oven Mountain PHES project, and how this metric could be broadly applied to other network regions
- describe evidence of inter-regional support between NSW and Queensland electricity systems provided by PHES and the associated unlocked renewables
- report on the relative merits of various network system services provided by a PHES project in a REZ (such as inertia support, fault level support, etc.)
- report on potential marginal loss factor support provided by PHES
- 600 to 1000 direct jobs during the year construction period
- 30 operational jobs during the 50+ year life of the project
- More than $1bn direct capital investment in regional NSW plus the unlocking of further local renewable energy investment
- Substantial upgrades to existing roads between Armidale and Kempsey
- Upgrades to communications, underpinning 4G in the region
- Static water source for firefighting
- Decoupling NSW wholesale energy from fuel price risks
- Increasing competition within the wholesale, derivatives and retail markets
Reservoirs of water are poised to play a key role storing renewable energy to bolster the grid.