NSW government approves Shoalhaven Pumped Hydro expansion

The New South Wales government has waved through the first stage of plans for Origin Energy’s $300 million major upgrade of its Shoalhaven Pumped Hydro Storage Scheme.

State planning minister Rob Stokes said on Tuesday that his department had given Origin the go-ahead for geological works – a first step on the path to doubling the capacity of the Southern Highlands facility, from 240MW to 475MW.

“Pumped hydro stations act like a battery,” said NSW energy minister Matt Kean in comments on Tuesday. “They provide firm energy when intermittent sources of power like solar and wind are offline.”“The Shoalhaven Hydro Expansion project would go a long way in helping NSW transition to a clean energy future,” he said.

For Origin, the project has been described as an “obvious” and “really good investment,” as renewables are added to Australia’s National Electricity Market at an increasingly rapid rate.

The progress withShoalhaven follows news that government-owned Snowy Hydro had reached out to Victoria’s Labor government for support in running a major new transmission line between the NSW pumped hydro scheme and Melbourne.Snowy chief Paul Broad has reportedly argued that the1500MW of existing Snowy Hydro capacity could be valuable to Victoria in the summer, when local supply is stretched during peak power events.