Tuesday 20th February 2018
An ambitious plan by Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance to enhance South Australia’s energy security through an innovative pumped storage project near Whyalla, moved a step closer to reality today with the award of Australian Government funding for a significant pre-feasibility study.
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), on behalf of the Australian Government, is providing A$500,000 for the GFG Alliance to investigate how the Iron Duchess North mine pit, in the South Middleback Ranges of South Australia, could be utilised as a lower reservoir for a pumped hydro energy storage (PHES) plant with an estimated capacity of 90 MW and 390 MWh.
This activity will receive funding from ARENA as part of ARENA’s Advancing Renewables Program, and follows on from an earlier, positive concept study in relation to the project. ARENA’s funding adds to a similar financial commitment from the Government of South Australia via their Renewable Technology Fund announced earlier this month.
PHES works by pumping water uphill between two connected reservoirs at times of low electricity demand when power is cheap and abundant, and then running the water back downhill to drive turbines during periods when demand is high or when supply is low due to lack of wind or sun.
The first stage of this study is expected to be completed in six months, and will include high-level designs, engineering studies, network studies, geotechnical investigation, market modelling and commercial evaluation.
If the results from this study are positive, this proposed investment in Australia’s future green energy supply – currently having an estimated cost of A$170 million – could be built by 2022.
SIMEC ZEN Energy – part of the GFG Alliance – will play a key role in the study and will also be project managing it. Responding to the funding announcement, Geoff Titus, Chief Executive Officer of SIMEC ZEN Energy said:
“We’re grateful to ARENA for their support on this important scheme. This ground-breaking study into pumped hydro storage potential at the South Middleback Ranges is a great opportunity for SIMEC ZEN Energy to obtain real-world insights and use these to provide solutions for customers seeking secure, affordable and low-emission energy to overcome their current energy challenges.
“We look forward to working initially with Liberty OneSteel to meet its energy needs and ultimately to establishing partnerships with other large energy users across Australia seeking a new way of contracting energy for their long-term success,” He added.
Matt Reed, Executive General Manager of GFG Alliance business SIMEC Mining, said: “As well as the environmental advantages this innovative renewable energy project will bring, it will also re-use depleted pits, thereby unlocking a legacy from past economic activity for the benefit of Australia’s future generations. GFG Alliance, with its unique focus on energy, mining and industry is ideally placed to capture this added value for the economy.
“GFG Alliance is grateful for this funding support that will help accelerate Australia’s transition to a more economic, secure, reliable, and sustainable electricity network,” he added.