Will Glenbawn and Glennies Creek dams be the site of pumped hydro projects?

Back in mid December 2018 the NSW Government unveiled its NSW Pumped Hydro Roadmap.

It was described as a landmark WaterNSW initiative to harness dam storages to produce clean, hydro-electricity.

Energy projects with a total generation capacity of around 7,000 megawatts were shortlisted for development on dams owned and operated by WaterNSW. Most of these projects were for pumped hydro energy storage.

Glenbawn Dam. Photo: WaterNSW

Glenbawn Dam. Photo: WaterNSW

Pumped hydro stores energy for when the grid needs it by pumping water up-hill when demand is low and then releasing it down pipes through a turbine to generate electricity when demand is high.

The then Minister for Regional Water, Niall Blair said combining water security infrastructure with renewable energy options is a win-win.

"We have received enormous interest from the private sector with 65 commercial opportunities identified, 24 of which WaterNSW has selected for further investigation."

Following that initial announcement nothing much as been heard about the hydro roadmap in the Upper Hunter. No big announcements in regards to Glenbawn and Glennies Creek dams.

The only project on the drawing board was one proposed by AGL for an open cut mine void near Muswellbrook. But it remains in an early planning stage.

So it was interesting to see media reports in the Daily Mail last week in regards to the two Upper Hunter dams saying a company Goldwind Australia was likely to be given the tender to develop pump hydro projects on Glenbawn and Glennies Creek dams.

The report stated projects at Glennies Creek and Glenbawn Dam were deemed not profitable enough by the Australian bidders, with shortlisted companies AGL and Meridian dropping out of the race.

Goldwind describes itself as a world leader in energy transition that specialises in wind turbines and its home base is China.

Comment was sought from the company on the media reports but they replied "Goldwind is not in a position to comment on the WaterNSW tender process - confidentiality obligations apply to participants."

NSW Water Minister Melinda Pavey did not respond to a request for comment on the news report in regards to the tender process or the projects themselves.

Labor's Shadow Minister for Water and member for Cessnock Clayton Barr said everybody in NSW should be concerned about a government tender process that has been negotiated with just a single bidder.

"And the fact that the NSW Government won't talk about this issue pushes us all from a state of concern to a state of alarm.

"Water in our rivers and dams and catchments belongs to all of us, as tax payers. Now the NSW Government want to sell off our water, presumably because they have sold everything else for their Sydney projects. They must make sure that they are 100% transparent with all of us, as taxpayers, about that sell-off.

"The local MP, Michael Johnsen, is a member of the Government - why is he not being open and transparent about these plans for pumped hydro and the tender process that occurred?"

This story Questions raised over Upper Hunter pumped hydro projects first appeared on The Scone Advocate.