The Shoalhaven could be home to Australia’s second-largest hydro scheme after the NSW Government approved the first stage of the $300 million Shoalhaven Hydro Expansion project.
Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes announced geological works for the major upgrade have been given the go ahead.
The current Shoalhaven Hydro Power Station was constructed in 1977 with 240MW of combined generation and pump capacity at two sites. The upgrade would see an additional 235 MW of clean energy generated with the addition of one unit, bringing the site’s total output to 475 MW, or enough energy to power 160,000 homes.
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“This transformative project on the South Coast has the potential to significantly boost energy security in NSW, while also delivering renewable power to consumers across the State,” Mr Stokes said.
The expansion of Shoalhaven Hydro was declared a Critical State Significant Infrastructure project late last year.
Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean said the project would help the NSW Government achieve its target of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.
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“The Shoalhaven Hydro Expansion project would go a long way in helping NSW transition to a clean energy future,” Mr Kean said.
“Pumped hydro stations act like a battery. They provide firm energy when intermittent sources of power like solar and wind are offline.”
The applicant, Origin Energy, will now need to submit an Environmental Impact Statement to the NSW Government before the main upgrade works, involving the construction of a hydroelectric pump and power station, can begin.