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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Next stage of pumped hydro project at Muswellbrook underway

The preliminary phase of the feasibility study for the proposed 250MW Bells Mountain pumped hydro project at Muswellbrook is nearing completion.

The engineering report began in 2019 to determine whether the project – a joint partnership between AGL and Idemitsu Australia Resources (IAR) – was technically feasible, provided cost estimates for both construction and operation, and assessed the required planning and approval processes.

Pumped hydro works by circulating water from the lower reservoir in a mine void into an upper storage site.

Upon demand, water is released and uses gravity to turn turbines and generate electricity.

AGL chief operating officer Markus Brokhof said the company viewed the development as potentially beneficial to the community and Australia’s energy transition.

“As we move to more renewable energy sources, pumped hydro provides a reliable on-demand generation source,” he explained.

“We have worked closely with Muswellbrook Shire Council throughout this study and I’d like to thank them for their role in identifying the option.

“AGL is proud to be part of this Upper Hunter community.

“We’re committed to investing in the region through projects like pumped hydro, which will contribute to jobs and region’s future in energy generation.

“Through both thermal and renewable generation, our regional communities play an instrumental role in enabling AGL to deliver reliable and affordable energy right across Australia.

“This study is part of our commitment to deliver a mix of technologies to the energy system and aligns with our Climate Statement and target of net-zero emissions by 2050.”

IAR chief commercial officer Chris Walsh said the results from the preliminary phase of the feasibility study were promising and that the business was investigating further renewable energy development and export opportunities through its subsidiary Idemitsu Renewable Development Australia (IRDA).

“We have established IRDA, which will leverage our global expertise from our parent company Idemitsu Kosan, to ensure we can continue to contribute to regional communities like Muswellbrook where mining started some 113 years ago,” he stated.

“Innovative rehabilitation solutions such as the reuse of mine voids as proposed with the Bells Mountain pumped hydro project ensure that sites like Muswellbrook can continue to generate investment and long-term employment.”

Following completion of the preliminary study, AGL and Idemitsu intend to proceed with completion of a full feasibility report including a targeted geotechnical drilling program, detailed design of the project, contractor engagement and securing the critical environmental approvals.

That is the next phase towards potential completion of the project in 2027.

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