A hydro way to provide lost cost energy

A hydro way to provide lost cost energy 12 Oct 2016 Euroa Gazette, Euroa VIC (General News) by Will Murray THE Strathbogie-Seymour Energy Alliance welcomed a $50,000 grant from the Victorian Government last week in order to conduct a feasibility study into the development of a pumped hydroelectricity energy storage facility (PHES) at two sites near Euroa and Seymour. Jaclyn Symes (MLC, Northern Victoria) announced the funding for the Alliance, comprising of the Euroa Environment Group, The Seymour We Want Action group, and the Broadford Environmental Action Movement (BEAM) to look into whether hydro could provide a significant proportion of base load energy, and reduce constraints on the Hume region. Pumped hydro works by passing water from two storage facilities; an upper and lower reservoir with an altitude differential of at least 100m. Water is pumped from the lower facility to the upper during periods of low demand or when renewable sources such as wind or PV solar are available. The water is released from the upper facility during peak energy usage times, passing through a turbine and generating electricity in the same fashion as a regular hydro facility. This kind of energy storage facility helps reduce strain on the base-load generators at peak times, lowers costs by using energy at low-demand periods, and if used in conjunction with renewable sources can provide a clean form of energy. Thanks to the pumping method, a hydro scheme of this kind requires neither a large storage facility, nor as much water as a more traditional hydro generator, and is therefore reliable year-round. The Euroa Environment Group, working with The University of Melbourne Energy Institutes Roger Dargaville and Goulburn Valley Waters Nathan Epp, have identified Euroas Abbinga reservoir and the waterways running from the nearby Strathbogie tableland as a potential site for a PHES. Shirley Saywell, a member of the EEG, said the site was first suggested by Fiona Townsend, a former environmental scientist and now teacher, who noticed the amount of water flowing from the plateau down to the reservoir during her commute to the Euroa Secondary College and realised its potential for energy production. With some research and collaboration with the other environmental groups in Seymour and BEAM, we found that developing a hydro scheme was a real possibility, Ms Saywell said. We got Roger (Dargaville) on board, and he has been fantastic in turning our ideas into a case to present to the government. The Abbinga reservoir is owned by GV Water, who were keen to lend their support to the project. Nathan Epp, senior engineer for Energy and Commercial Projects at GV Water, has been instrumental in getting the pre-feasibility work done for the EEG to present to the grants board. GV Water were in the process of putting in a turbine to run their pump from the reservoir to the town, so they see this scheme as a partnership which could help to reduce their costs, and the costs to consumers, Ms Saywell said. Charlie Brydon, from the Euroa Environment Group, explained the difficulty in getting to this stage of the project. At this stage the money is going to a feasibility study, so we dont have too much information with regard to the costs of building a scheme, or how much energy it could produce, he said. However we have really been put through the wringer to get to this point, the State Government isnt just handing these grants out. So were confident- as are our partners- that this isnt just some fanciful idea, it has real potential. The next step is for Mr Dargaville and his team at Melbourne University to conduct an engineering assessment, and to ensure any energy generated would be utilised by the community. With pumped hydro running off renewables, the cost is in the initial build, not the production of energy according to Mr Brydon. The facility is expensive to build, which is why we have been keen to get a number of business and interest groups involved in the project and do a thorough business case, he explained. Once its built, it can produce energy for virtually nothing. Ausnet Services (formerly SP Ausnet) have also thrown their support behind the project, calling it a flagship initiative. Ausnet realises they need to develop their energy sources with the times, Ms Saywell said. A range of energy sources increases their reliability and reduce the costs to their customers if theyre going to stay competitive in a changing market. I think they thought if we dont support it, others will. Given the shires position at the end of the line in terms of energy delivery, it is often prone to blackouts and often reliant on expensive generators. Mr Brydon believes that by providing a new energy source, reliance on these generators will be eliminated, reducing the costs to the community. The government has been really encouraging in developing these kinds of projects, Mr Brydon said. They have seen the success of some communities like Yackandandah and Huntlee and are looking into community-based energy projects more and more. This as an opportunity for Euroa and the shire to become an example of things that can be done, and I think once people see that this has real potential they will get right behind it. The funding will expire in seven months, however the EEG expect a much shorter time-frame for their case to be completed. Caption Text: GATHERING MOMENTUM: An aerial shot of the Abbinga reservoir outside Euroa, one of the proposed sites for the pumped hydroelectricity scheme (PHES). THE ENERGY ALLIANCE: Attendees at PHES meeting in Melbourne in July were standing Steven Johnston (left) and Zoe Pilven both from New Energy Technology DELWP, Nathan Epp GV Water, Dr Roger Dargaville Melbourne Energy Institute, Charlie Brydon community representative, and Justin Harding AusNet Services; seated (left) Peter Mitchell, Shirley Saywell and Andreas Kofler all community reps. Licensed by Copyright Agency. You may only copy or communicate this work with a licence.