A feasibility study to see if a pumped hydro project in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland stacks up environmentally and economically is a welcome step, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia.
“Queensland can help Australia become a renewable energy exports superpower. But to provide 24/7 renewable power, and attract clean manufacturing, it’s going to take large scale batteries and pumped hydro projects such as this one,” said WWF-Australia CEO Dermot O’Gorman.
“This could potentially be the second largest pumped hydro scheme in Australia. This method of generating energy will be crucial to decarbonising economies around the globe.
“Queensland has an opportunity to set a gold standard, and show the world how to integrate pumped hydro effectively and efficiently into a modern electricity system,” he said.
The project would involve expanding the existing Borumba Dam, constructing a new dam above it, and linking the two with tunnels.
During the day when renewable energy is abundant it could be used to pump water to the new higher reservoir.
At night, the water could be released, driving turbines and generating electricity, as it travels back down to Borumba Dam.
“We welcome the potential of this project to store significant amounts of renewable energy for use when it is needed, and are keen to see further investments in more renewables and battery storage for Queensland,” Mr O’Gorman said.
“However, pumped hydro projects are not without environmental risk and key issues would need to be addressed if this proposal is to proceed,” he said.
Mr O’Gorman said this includes protecting threatened species by offsetting the loss of critical habitat, including any impact on state forests and national parks; ensuring the additional take of water does not compromise the existing Mary Basin Water Plan; consultation with Traditional Owners, recreational users and farmers; engaging with local environment groups in the assessment of environmental impacts including impacts from the construction of roads and infrastructure; and a full assessment of the climate change impacts on the environmental and economic performance of the proposal.