SA’s proposed seawater pumped hydro plant at Cultana reaches next stage

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ARENA is providing a further $500,000 in funding to EnergyAustralia for the next stage of the 225 MW Cultana seawater pumped hydro plant in South Australia.

The money will be used to fund the $8 million feasibility study which involves completion of project design including geotechnical investigations and equipment specifications, environmental impact studies and grid connection works.

Last year ARENA provided a $453,000 in funding for the initial feasibility study that examined the practical viability of the proposed coastal pumped hydro plant for SA’s Spencer Gulf.

The study, which was led by a consortium of EnergyAustralia, Arup and the Melbourne Energy Institute, found that the proposed seawater pumped hydro energy storage would be ‘technically viable’ with an optimal capacity of 225MW and storage capacity of 1,770MWh – the equivalent of more than 126,000 home batteries.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said that if built, the Cultana facility would be the largest seawater pumped hydro facility in the world, and the first of its kind in Australia.

“This pioneering project aims to build Australia’s first ever pumped hydro using seawater and could open up the potential for future seawater pumped hydro around Australia,” he said.

“Pumped Hydro is the most common and mature form of energy storage which has been traditionally used in rivers, but seawater has the benefit of having no impact on rivers and no need to construct lower reservoirs.”

Mark Collette, EnergyAustralia Executive – Energy said pumped hydro could be key to ensuring flexible capacity in Australia’s energy system.

“Pumped hydro is really a way of storing energy so it can be used when it’s needed, like a giant battery. Finding ways to store energy will be critical to Australia’s transition to cleaner energy so it’s great to have ARENA get behind the project with funding toward the next stage of its development,” he said.

“We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us this year with detailed design and engineering, community engagement, environmental assessments and approvals but we’re excited about the potential for seawater pumped hydro to play an important role in Australia’s future energy mix.”

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