AUSTRALIA

Government eyes cheaper power from Sunshine Coast hydro plant

Professor Bartlett’s research showed a pumped hydro plant at Borumba Dam could power 400,000 homes.

On Wednesday, Professor Bartlett said the Queensland government obtained land near Borumba Dam, upstream on Yabba Creek, and near Mount Byron, west of Somerset Dam, for potential pumped hydro dam sites in 1985.

”I have no hesitation is stating that these schemes are not only feasible, but are the best sites available in Australia, to my knowledge,” Professor Bartlett said on Wednesday night.

“The government knew back then that, come 30 or 40 years’ time, we were going to need some large pumped storage schemes in southern Queensland.”

Professor Bartlett said both sites were “eminently capable” of being developed as large pumped hydro sites.

“They are actually a lot better than the Snowy 2.0 scheme – mainly it is a much shorter distance from the upper reservoir and the lower reservoir,” he said.

“It is less than two kilometres, whereas [Snowy 2.0] is 27 kilometres, so there is a lot less tunnelling and a lot more efficient schemes.”

Professor Bartlett said Borumba Dam, where there are plans to raise the dam wall, was also close to the main north-south electricity transmission line, meaning it was relatively cheap to connect to the electricity grid.

“Not only is it a good pumped storage site, it is also Seqwater’s main option for increasing water supply for the Sunshine Coast, so you could get a win-win there,” he said.

The Queensland government said research was not well advanced and did not answer specific questions about the Borumba Dam proposal.

“As part of the Queensland government’s Powering Queensland Plan, we are developing a hydro study to search for the best location to create more cleaner, cheaper energy for Queenslanders,” a spokeswoman for Energy Minister Mick de Brenni said.

Last month, Genex Power announced it would begin to construct a $700 million, 250-megawatt pumped hydro plant between two water-filled pits at the old Kidston Gold Mine about 200 kilometres north of Hughenden.

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