hydro power

Western Australia’s first pumped-hydro microgrid will bolster energy reliability in the region, with construction now underway in Walpole.

The renewable pumped-hydro solution will mitigate up to 80 per cent of outages in the Walpole community at no additional cost to businesses, or the community.

It is expected to be fully operational in the second half of 2023. 

The 1.5MW pumped hydro facility will use two farm dams to store 30MW hours of energy. It will work by pumping water uphill from one dam to another when renewables are abundant and energy is cheap.

During periods of high demand, the water is released downhill through a generator to produce electricity. In the event of an outage, it will also supply power to the town.

Outages occur in Walpole as it is at the end of a 125km long feeder line that is exposed to disruptive elements such as plants and animals, storms, lightning, and bushfires. 

The Western Power and Power Research and Development joint renewable microgrid project was awarded $2 million as part of the Western Australia State Government’s Clean Energy Future Fund. The project is expected to create local jobs and opportunities for Walpole, and Western Australia. 

Western Australia Energy Minister, Bill Johnston, said the partnership between the State Government and Power Research and Development was a “great collaboration”. 

“This project, despite being on a smaller scale, will be used as a template for other areas in the state, and possibly nationally, and internationally,” Mr Johnston said. 

Power Research and Development Director, Colin Stonehouse, said the project has new and clever technology, with the two farm dams in Walpole being inspired by the earliest AC hydropower plant, which was built in 1892. 

“The project has drawn on some of the leading suppliers in the world for its equipment, and without exception, they have all wanted to be involved and been very generous with their help,” Mr Stonehouse said. 

Member for Warren-Blackwood, Jane Kelsbie, is supportive of the new solution.

“Not only will the Walpole pumped-hydro project play an important part in our clean energy future, it will also generate quality local jobs.

“It’s wonderful to see innovative clean energy projects being created right here in our community,” Ms Kelsbie said. 

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