Pumped Hydro Study begins
The Pumped Hydro Feasibility Study is getting under way. The $50,000 funding has been received from the New Energy Jobs Fund (DEDJTR) and is being administered by Euroa Environment Group. Roger Dargaville from the Melbourne Energy Institute has been engaged to lead the study.
The feasibility study is designed with a series of milestones to be achieved before it proceeds to the next step. The study on one or other site would end if the study shows that the project is not feasible at that step. So we are watching the process closely – and optimistically at this stage. The study is due to finish in mid-late 2017.
One of the first – and critical – milestones is a geotechnical assessment of the two sites. On 25th November, Roger and representatives of the Seymour Strathbogie Energy Alliance met with Goulburn Valley Water that manages the water storages involved in the project. Jeff Wilmot reports:
Present at the morning meeting in Goulburn Room, Seymour SAC were Roger Dargaville, Nathan Epp and five others from Goulburn Valley Water, Shirley Saywell, Andi Kofler and Charlie Brydon from Euroa and Richard Telford, Bob Brown, Julie Mitchell, Malcolm Green and and Jeff Wilmot from Seymour. After lunch Roger, Nathan , his offsider Greg, and Jeff visited the Strathbogie reservoirs and then those four plus Malcolm, Julie and Richard visited the Trawool reservoir.
Perhaps 2 MW could be expected from pumped hydro between the Waterhouse and Abinga reservoirs near Euroa. Having a relatively low head, a large amount of water is required to generate this power. The consequent change in water level would reduce the head to 80 metres.
2 MW is the size of the diesel generator used now to back up the Euroa supply. Peak demand at Euroa spikes in summer at 5 MW when the generator is now switched on. But the water demand at the same time is also at a peak and water levels in Waterhouse and Abbinga dams are at their lowest. So the potential 2 MW from the pumped hydro may not be available when it is needed most.
New pipe is required to replace existing pipe between which is 375 mm AC and not large enough or of sufficient pressure rating. It also has to bypass Mountain Hutt reservoir. The length of pipe is 4 km and would possibly cost $4million. A considerable part if its length is in flat land approaching Abinga, and the pipe cost could be reduced if a new reservoir was built closer to Waterhouse.
The available head and volume of water being considered equate to storage of 44 MWh of electricity. Generator capacity could be 4 MW which could run for 11 hours, or a greater capacity to run for a shorter time.
Potential income from arbitraging (buying cheap power and selling expensive power as determined by time of day) could be $1million per year. What return on investment that represents depends on the capital cost for which dependable engineering estimates still have to be obtained.
Another potential function could be to flatten the output of the Cherry Tree Range wind farm.
The wall is considered able to withstand the duty cycle involved, being masonry and therefore not porous which would be damaged by a daily wetting and drying out. Its continuing integrity after 120 years (built in 1895) is also a good indicator. Water is leaking from the valve at the bottom of the wall which indicates that the reservoir has not silted up.
The outlet pipes would be protected by suitable screens to prevent objects from entering and would also be a safety barrier. Outside that the water would be slow moving and the reservoir would still be available for recreation. There would be no need for fencing.
As a means of electricity storage the cost of PHES is one tenth of the cost of equivalent batteries.
Nathan raised the possibility of Goulburn Valley Water making a commercial enterprise of these projects.
Euroa Environment Group have set up a website for the community engagement part of the feasibility study at https://phesvictoria.wordpress.com. Photos taken by Anthony Chisholm using a drone can be seen by using the search tag (upper right) and typing in “Seymour” or “Strathbogie” then Enter. This is a photo of Trawool Reservoir. Videos from the drone will be posted soon.