Work begins on WA’s first pumped hydro microgrid

Work has officially begun on Western Australia’s first renewable pumped hydro microgrid, which will increase power reliability for a town in the state’s south-west.

Denmark CEO David Schober

The facility will be connected to the state’s main electricity network and will provide power to more than 500 customers in the outage-plagued town of Walpole.

The facility will boost energy reliablity in the town by up to 80 per cent, according to state-government owned corporation Western Power.

Shire of Denmark CEO David Schober says power outages in the region have a significant impact on both tourism and the agricultural sector.

“To have more reliablily in the system is going to be very very important for both Denmark and Walpole,” he says.

Creating a water ‘battery’

Like traditional hydro-electric systems, mini-pumped hydro sends water from a lower dam to a higher one, where the water is stored like a ‘battery’ and released back down through a generator to create electricity when need.

Walpole’s 1.5-megawatt solar-powered pumped hydro facility will use two farm dams to store 30MW hours of energy and have the capacity to power the town for up to two days.

The project, being delivered by Western Power in collaboration with WA-based engineering company Power Research and Development (PRD), will act as a blueprint for other parts of the state and possibly nationally and internationally, the government hopes.

Modular solutions way of the future

Brenton Laws

Western Power business development manager Brenton Laws says the project represents a shift towards smaller, modular energy solutions.

“Increasingly what we’re going to see is smaller distributed solutions that can go in different parts of the network to avoid substantial network upgrades,” he says.

Local company MCC Contractors is undertaking the main earthworks and the plant is expected to be operational in the second half of 2023.

The project has received $2 million from the state government’s Clean Energy Future Fund.

“This project plays an important role in our clean energy future, supports the increasing rise of renewables, and assists in balancing power demand and supply,” energy minister Bill Johnston said in a statement.

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One thought on “Work begins on WA’s first pumped hydro microgrid

  1. Refreshing that we can be innovative and work to deliver on the small in scale Repeatable , less destructive Boutique Hydro Schemes. Being both Modular & easily repeatable system.
    As opposed to Renewable infrastructure that must be Big, large scale Like Snowy Pumped Hydro systems. that Results in high environmental damage with questionable delivery. I expect now with a main contractor being in liquidation, delivered will be well after Walpole will have its system running.

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