Zen Energy plans Sydney pumped hydro energy storage


Sydney’s biggest water storage behind Warragamba dam, Lake Burragorang is proposed as the site for a pumped hydro project that could generate enough electricity to up to 500,000 homes and businesses.

ZEN Energy is proposing to turn degraded coal industry land at Nattai on the escarpment above the lake into a 1,000 megawatts (1GW) Western Sydney Pumped Hydro project capable of supplying up to eight continuous hours of ‘firming’ energy, essential to stabilise the state’s electricity grid.

Located 24km away from Warragamba Dam and drinking water treatment, the project will also be mostly underground: pumping water from Lake Burragorang through tunnels to a reservoir located on the former coal industry land.

When demand is high, water will be released to drive underground turbines and send renewable power into the electricity grid.

ZEN CEO Anthony Garnaut said: “The vast water reserves of Lake Burragorang can supply Sydneysiders with clean drinking water and clean, renewable energy as well.

“Large-scale energy storage projects like Western Sydney Pumped Hydro are key to keeping the lights on and energy prices in check in NSW as our coal-fired power stations age and retire over the next decade.

“Western Sydney Pumped Hydro marks ZEN’s entry into renewable energy development in New South Wales – a key milestone for us as we grow and envision a 1.5-degree world for all.”

A $1 million per year Community Benefit Scheme will be created and the project will generate 1,500 jobs during construction and 80 operations jobs.

Coal was mined from the Burragorang Valley from 1930 to 1992 and the project site was used as a coal washery, operated by Burragorang Valley Coal, until 2001 and since then undergone rehabilitation.

The Dunbier family, which owned the company, is now partnering with ZEN to begin construction in 2027 and be operational by 2031.

Initial studies have established that the project would have no detrimental impact on water quality or cause any change to water levels in Lake Burragorang, including no flooding of the shoreline and surrounding natural environment. This was critical to securing WaterNSW’s approval for ZEN to progress the project.

“ZEN is committed to, and looking forward to, sharing and shaping the project design and its benefits with locals, Traditional Owners, Wollondilly Council, and other interested and important stakeholders,” Garnaut said.

Picture: Zen Energy

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