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Grants to support pumped-storage development in South Australia

The Government of South Australia has awarded A$ 8.7 million (US$ 6.8 million) in grants to four companies planning to build pumped-storage hydropower projects.

The four projects, in the Upper Spencer Gulf, would involve the investment of a combined total of about A$ 1.5 billion (US$ 1.2 billion) to add some 750 MW of storage capacity to support the integration of renewable energy.

Grants ranging from A$ 500 000 to A$ 4.7 million were awarded by the state’s Renewable Technology Fund to the investors to conduct feasibility studies for the pumped-storage plants near Whyalla, Port Augusta and Port Germein. The largest grant of A$ 4.7 million was awarded toward the A$ 9.4 million cost of development phase activities for the 230 MW Goat Hill project, which is being developed by Altura Group in partnership with Delta Electricity. The closed loop project at Lincoln Gap near Port Augusta would require an investment of about $ 410 million. An investment decision is expected this year with a view to the project being operational in late 2020.

Rise Renewables was meanwhile awarded an A$ 3 million grant toward the A$ 6.3 million cost in accelerated engineering, design and development activities for its project at the existing Baroota reservoir near Port Germain. The A$ 406 million project would have a capacity of 200 to 230 MW.

EnergyAustralia and the GFG Alliance were meanwhile awarded A$ 500 000 grants towards the cost of engineering design and pre-feasibility studies for a potential 225 MW project at Cultana, north of Whyalla, and a 90 MW project at Iron Duchess mine site, respectively. EnergyAustralia, which is owned by Hong Kong-based and listed CLP Group, expects the engineering design activities for its project to cost A$ 8 million and the total investment outlay to rise to A$ 477 million.

GFG Alliance, a UK-based global metals and mining conglomerate owned by the Gupta Family, expects an outlay of A$ 1.7 million to cover the cost of pre-feasibility studies into the conversion of a depleted iron ore pit into a pumped hydro plant in the Middleback Ranges. The pre-feasibility studies will be conducted by SIMEC ZEN Energy, which became part of the GFG Alliance in September 2017. The A$ 170 million facility is currently targeted for commissioning in 2022. The project forms part of SIMEC ZEN Energy’s strategic plan to build 1 GW of additional renewable energy capacity in South Australia, which will provide access to lower cost, reliable, and low emission energy for both GFG’s own steelworks at Whyalla and other industrial users across Australia.

“This can be a game changer for our highly energy intensive industries such as steel and aluminium,” Sanjeev Gupta said in a press release.

A dramatic reduction in power price is the most important ingredient needed for an industrial renaissance in Australia. “The cost of solar and wind is rapidly declining globally with the evolution of technology and economies of scale. However, without a viable large-scale storage solution this revolution is incomplete and unsustainable

Sanjeev Gupta, GFG Alliance