The Queensland Government will invest $22 million for detailed design and cost analysis for a potential pumped hydro site at Borumba Dam.
The project would generate around 2,000 regional construction jobs.
Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, said the project had the potential to be the state’s largest pumped hydro station, powering an estimated 1.5 million homes.
“More pumped hydro means more long-term, reliable energy and jobs for Queenslanders,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“My government has been exploring potential sites for pumped hydro since 2017.
“We’re prioritising Borumba because of its existing dam infrastructure, land access and location within the Southern Queensland Renewable Energy Zone.
“Supporting investment in renewables is part of Queensland’s plan for economic recovery from the global Coronavirus pandemic.
“It will deliver clean energy and support thousands of jobs into the future.”
Queensland Treasurer, Cameron Dick, said the business case would include detailed engineering and design, hydrological modelling, geological testing, an assessment of environmental impacts and community consultation.
“We’re investing $22 million to potentially unlock a multibillion-dollar construction project that would leverage billions more in clean energy investment and support thousands of jobs,” Mr Dick said.
“This is an investment in jobs and renewable power that can be used at any time of the day to feed Queensland consumers and Queensland industry.”
Queensland Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen, Mick de Brenni, said at 1GW, Borumba would have double the generation and triple the storage of Wivenhoe.
“The benefits of having pumped hydro as part of our diversified energy mix was proven last month when Callide Power Station went offline,” Mr de Brenni said.
“We were able to ramp up the Wivenhoe Hydroelectric Station to provide critical generation support and stabilise the network.
“Pumped hydro storage is flexible, reliable and complements renewable energy generation such as solar and wind.
“That’s why Queensland needs more of it as we progress to 50 per cent renewables by 2030.
“Borumba Dam is already a hub of activity with water skiing, camping, BBQs and picnics on the lakefront and this possible expansion will see that grow.”
Mr de Brenni said if Borumba moves ahead, the Commonwealth should contribute to the capital cost.
“We’re talking about nation-building infrastructure,” Mr de Brenni said.
“Every other state has had energy projects built by the Commonwealth – Queenslanders deserve their share.”
Publicly-owned electricity transmission company Powerlink has been tasked with undertaking the business case, given its understanding of the electricity market and experience delivering very large infrastructure.
The business case is expected to take up to 24 months, with a submission expected to the government by mid-to-end-2023.
Powerlink will undertake initial works in the coming months by engaging with a range of stakeholders, including Seqwater, the Department of Environment and Science, local government, local community, environmental groups and Traditional Owners.
Conservation of national parks and protected areas will be prioritised, and Powerlink will be actively working with First Nations and conservation groups to explore all options and ensure appropriate environmental offsets are identified.