Pumped Hydro

The Victorian Government recognises the need to build a secure and reliable energy system for homes and businesses across the state. Victoria's transition to a more sustainable energy future will see more renewables integrated into the grid, particularly in high risk regions of the state.

Hydro power technology harnesses the gravitational energy in water, generating power when water is pumped into an upper storage reservoir through the day or overnight when prices are low (off-peak), then released into a lower reservoir during periods of high demand when prices are high (peak).

At a pumped hydro facility, unlike a conventional hydro scheme, water is not then discharged from the lower reservoir but pumped back to the upper reservoir during off-peak hours using electricity from the grid.

Solar pumped hydro facilities use solar power from nearby solar farms to pump the water back to the upper reservoir or to above ground tanks where no reservoir is available.

Pumped hydro energy storage integrates cheaper renewable energy and strengthen grid reliability. The technology can take power from the grid during times of high supply or low demand and store it as 'back-up' energy, returning it to the grid when demand increases or supply is low.

Combining renewable energy generation with large-scale energy storage capability is expected to help meet the growing demand for electricity at peak times in Victoria, as well as help alleviate the state's peak power prices.

Pumped Hydro in Bendigo

The Victorian Government and City of Greater Bendigo co-funded a pre-feasibility study into renewable energy pumped hydro using existing mining infrastructure in Bendigo. The final report found that the project has the potential to be technically feasible and economically viable.

The concept proposed for further development is an inter-reef pumped hydro system with a capacity of up to 30 MW which can store up to six hours or 180 MWh of energy. The project has the potential for a wide variety of benefits, including:

  • the ability to support deeper integration of renewable energy in the region;
  • a strong prospect for cost-effective energy storage in regional Victoria, which could help the city achieve its goal of becoming a net exporter of renewable energy; and
  • the potential to develop a world-first underground pumped hydro project in regional Victoria.

The government would like to acknowledge the critical role the Bendigo Sustainability Group (BSG) has played in this project. The BSG provided the project concept and other resources, held a steering committee role and facilitated engagement with local stakeholders.

The government sought expressions of interest from industry and other parties to progress this work into a full feasibility study. Information sessions were held in Melbourne and Bendigo to provide interested parties with an opportunity to seek further details.

The government encourages industry to take this innovative concept through to the next stage, which the pre-feasibility study report recommended to be a full feasibility study.

For further information, please email new.energy@delwp.vic.gov.au

A copy of the final pre-feasibility study report is provided here:

Pre-feasibility study into renewable energy pumped hydro (PDF, 2.0 MB)

Pre-feasibility study into renewable energy pumped hydro (DOCX, 7.7 MB)

Further Information

Page last updated: 14/11/19