Investigating Tasmania’s pumped hydro potential

6474 HYD Battery of a Nation Icons RGB-PUMPED_HYDRO

Coal is retiring, and new sources of renewable energy like wind and solar are cheap and becoming more plentiful. But they are variable so energy storage is needed to help fill the gaps and maintain the reliability and stability of our electricity supply. That’s where Tasmania can help!

Lake Cethana, Lake Rowallan and Tribute pumped hydro opportunities stacked up as the most promising when we assessed them against a range of technical, environmental, financial and social criteria as part of studies to assess Tasmania’s pumped hydro potential.

These sites were selected from the original list of 14 potential pumped hydro options identified across Tasmania. They represent strong and sustainable development opportunities with the sort of long-term storage options the future national electricity market will need.

We are now progressing our feasibility study, to take a closer look at their potential and decide on the first site that could be developed.

You can learn more about this work in the “Pumped hydro feasibility study” section below.

Our recently completed pre-feasibility study, jointly funded with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), has identified a strong portfolio of cost-competitive future pumped hydro opportunities, with a combined capacity of 3400 MW.

As well as these promising sites, the pre-feasibility study has identified another three options that form a future pipeline of potential pumped hydro development – at yingina / Great Lake in central Tasmania, Lake Parangana in the state’s North West and between Lakes Margaret and Burbury on the West Coast.

Download the Executive Summary

Download the Summary Report

Civil works and drilling

Hydro Tasmania is committed to progressing our projects, where we can do so safely, to support the Tasmanian economy and our contractors and suppliers as we investigate future development opportunities for the state.

We will continue with our geotechnical and geological investigations that form part of our feasibility study into potential future pumped hydro development. This will be done in line with official advice and guidelines on COVID-19.

As part of our continuing investigations in the Mersey-Forth, we’re doing further work on land west of Lake Cethana. This work is expected to continue to early 2021 and is part of our feasibility study into potential future pumped hydro development in Tasmania.

Over the course of these investigations, there may be extra traffic in the area, and possible minor delays as large equipment is moved to and from the site. Please follow any traffic advisory signs.

Download our geotechnical fact sheet.

Core samples

Geological and geotechnical investigations help us understand the physical properties of the ground where major infrastructure might go. We need to know things like is the rock hard or soft, are there faults that may make conditions unstable, are there areas of potential leakage?

This information is then used to inform the engineering design of the project.

Before we do field investigations, our team have looked at other information such as previous drilling reports from the area to help us decide where to drill.

Work sites and disturbed areas will be rehabilitated at the completion of work at each investigation area.

Pumped to announce our three most promising sites

We’re pumped to announce our three most promising pumped hydro sites and to get started on the detailed investigation of these key opportunities.

Work has now begun on a full feasibility assessment of opportunities at Lake Cethana and Lake Rowallan in the North-West and near Tribute Power Station on the West Coast.

This will involve grassroots community engagement, geotechnical investigations and environmental, heritage and social assessments.

Our Board has approved funding for this work to begin, as part of the first tranche of investment of up to $30 million for deeper studies of the three options.

The studies will identify the first pumped hydro project that can be ready to operate when 1200MW of additional Bass Strait interconnection comes online.

Download our Fact Sheets showing more detail on each potential site
Cethana (PDF 1 MB)
Rowallan (PDF 1 MB)
Tribute (PDF 1MB)
Three most promising pumped hydro sites
Mersey-Forth: Lake Cethana 
 Detail Capacity (MW)  Storage (hours)
  •  A new off-river upper storage on the western side of the Lake, linked by underground tunnels to Lake Cethana as the lower storage.
  • An underground pumped hydro power station at the lower end of the water conveyance tunnels.
  • A new transmission line connection from the proposed Cethana switchyard to Sheffield Substation, using existing easements where possible. 
 600  11

 Mersey-Forth: Lake Rowallan  
 Detail Capacity (MW) Storage (hours)
  •  A new off-river upper storage linked by underground tunnels to Lake Rowallan as the lower storage. 
  • A new underground pumped hydro power station at the lower end of the water conveyance tunnels. 
  • A new transmission line connection from the proposed Rowallan switchyard to Sheffield Substation, using existing easements where possible. 
 600  24

 West Coast: Tribute pumped hydro  
 Detail  Capacity (MW)  Storage (hours)
This option uses two existing storages – Lake Plimsoll as the upper storage and Lake Murchison as the lower storage.
  • New underground water conveyance tunnels linking the two existing lakes. No new water storages are required.
  • A new underground pumped hydro power station at the lower end of the water conveyance tunnels and adjacent to the existing underground power station.
  • Upgraded transmission line connection from the proposed Tribute switchyard to Farrell Substation, with an upgraded transmission line connection to Sheffield Substation as required. Existing easements will be used where possible.
 500  31

The studies undertaken during the feasibility stage include:

  • Geological and geotechnical studies
  • Environmental and heritage investigations
  • Stakeholder and community consultation on potential project impacts, benefits and mitigation measures
  • Engineering design and constructability
  • Transmission and connection studies.

Check out the information below on selecting a pumped hydro site, for more information on the process ahead. If you'd like to know a little more about how pumped hydro works, we've put together this short video.

Investigating Tasmania's pumped hydro potential

  • Selecting a pumped hydro site

  • Geotechnical investigations

  • Tasmanian pumped hydro pre-feasibility study

  • What is pumped hydro?

  • Why do we need pumped hydro?

  • Do you have questions?

© Hydro-Electric Corporation 2019