Australian researchers have identified 1,500 additional locations across the country that could be used as pumped storage hydropower facilities. They have said it should reduce Australia’s reliance on fossil fuels.
Academics at the Australian National University have said pumped storage hydropower is a “low-cost, mass storage option” that could help Australia reach its emissions reduction targets.
Emeritus Professor Andrew Blakers at the university’s College of Engineering, Computing and Cybernetics told VOA the process involves transferring water between two reservoirs or lakes at different elevations.
He said water is pumped to the higher reservoir when there are plentiful supplies of wind and solar energy. The water is then released at night, or at other times when it is not windy or sunny, maximizing the use of the stored energy in the reservoirs.
“We have two reservoirs; one at the top of a hill and the other down in a valley connected with a pipe or tunnel," he said. "On sunny and windy days, the pump turbine pumps water uphill to the upper reservoir and then in the middle of the night the water is allowed to come back down through the turbine to recover the energy that was stored. So, the same water goes up and down between the two reservoirs for 100 years. So, if you want large-scale storage, you go to pumped hydro.”
Researchers studied the area near every reservoir in Australia looking for a potential site for another reservoir that could be used as pumped storage hydropower.
They identified 1,500 locations that could help Australia store the energy it generates from wind and solar projects.
Blakers says Australia is becoming a world leader in the field.
“All Australian governments and companies are focused on very rapid construction of solar and wind, and equally rapid construction of new transmission to bring the new power to the cities, and pumped hydro and battery storage to balance the variable solar and wind. Australia is the global pathfinder. We are leading in every department,” he said.
Australia has a target of producing 82% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
Because of the country’s heavy reliance on coal and natural gas, it has been one of the world’s worst emitters of greenhouse gases, per capita.
Those fossil fuels continue to generate much of Australia’s electricity, but researchers believe that the country’s path toward a cleaner energy future is well underway.
The Australian National University study released Friday follows the team's identification of 530,000 potential pumped-storage hydro sites across the world.