NR hydro electricity could help create 'zero emission' grid
HYDRO electricity could enable Australia to create a zero emission grid by providing enough electricity when the sun and wind aren't working.
An Australian National University research team has today released an audit of 22,000 potential hydro electricity sites Australia-wide of which just 0.1% need to be developed to make zero emissions a reality.
And the Northern Rivers could play a role, with several local sites around Kyogle and Nimbin identified as potentially ripe for development.
The technology dubbed "short term pumped hydro off river energy storage”, or STORES, uses the same principle as the Snowy hydro scheme.
It require pairs of reservoirs at different altitudes, typically ranging from 10 hectares to 100 hectares, in hilly terrain and joined by a pipe with a pump and turbine.
Water is pumped uphill when wind and solar energy is plentiful, and electricity is available on demand by releasing the stored water through a turbine.
The ANU audit has identified a cluster of five potential sites on high ground around Georgica west of Nimbin, and another nine sites in the Bungabbee mountain range between Kyogle and Larnook.
They are a few of the 8600 sites identified in NSW and the ACT, of 22,000 identified Australia-wide.
"Australia needs only a tiny fraction of these sites for pumped hydro storage-about 450 GWh of storage -to support a 100 per cent renewable electricity system,” said lead researcher Professor Andrew Blakers from the ANU Research School of Engineering.
"Fast tracking the development of a few of the best sites by 2022 could balance the grid when Liddell and other coal power stations close.
"Pumped hydro storage, including Snowy 2.0, can be developed fast enough to balance the grid with any quantity of variable wind and solar PV power generation, including 100 per cent renewable energy.
"We found so many good potential sites that only the best 0.1 per cent will be needed. We can afford to be choosy.”
Co-researcher Mr Bin Lu said all of the potential STORES sites were outside national parks and urban areas.
"Pumped hydro - which accounts for 97% of energy storage worldwide - has a lifetime of 50 years, and is the lowest cost large-scale energy storage technology.”