EnergyAustralia picks new spot for Lake Lyell Pumped Hydro

Photo of the calm waters of Lake Lyell near Lithgow in NSW, with bush and trees surrounding the lake
Lake Lyell (Image: EnergyAustralia)

EnergyAustralia says visibility of the proposed Lake Lyell Pumped Hydro project will be significantly reduced following a decision to move the upper reservoir location to behind the southern ridge of Mt Walker and to locate the project pumphouse underground.

The design change has been made in response to community feedback and the initial assessment suggests the upper reservoir, to be built on land already owned by EnergyAustralia, will now not be seen from the majority of Lithgow.

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The assessment also indicates the new location will also be either not visible or significantly less visible from Bowenfels, South Bowenfels and Hillcrest Estate.

As part of the design change, the pumphouse for the project will also be located underground further reducing visual impacts and ensuring very minimal noise associated with running the pumped hydro facility.

EnergyAustralia’s Lake Lyell project director Mike de Vink said the design change followed community consultation over recent months.

“We’ve been out in the community, listening to people’s views on the project. Locals told us they were concerned about how the upper reservoir would look. We passed the challenge to our engineers, and we’ve come up with a solution which substantially reduces the project’s visual impact,” de Vink said.

“It is expected that the new location means many of the private homes that would have seen the original upper reservoir design will now not see the upper reservoir at all.

“We acknowledge that some properties on Sir Thomas Mitchell Drive and on the Rydal side of Lake Lyell will continue to see the upper reservoir and we will keep working with those landowners.

“The change demonstrates we are serious about listening to the community and taking action to address concerns. We’re also working hard to reduce environmental and cultural heritage impacts, where possible.

“An additional benefit of this new location is that the reservoir wall will now be built from natural rock rather than construction techniques using concrete. This is a big plus in reducing the carbon emissions associated with the project given concrete’s large carbon footprint.”

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The new position for the upper reservoir behind the southern ridge on Mt Walker is now the preferred option for the project and is detailed as part of EnergyAustralia’s recently released project Scoping Report and will be the location assessed as part of the project planning and impact assessment.

The Lake Lyell Pumped Hydro project is in the feasibility stage with a decision on proceeding likely at the end of 2024. Construction is anticipated to take four years. The 335MW project will provide energy for 150,000 homes for up to eight hours.

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