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  • Rikki Lambert

Pumped hydro in the Flinders Ranges - ANU speculates on 'clean' energy future

Areas marked with red and light red dots could each store 50 GWh of energy, the ANU says

New dams as far up the Flinders as Arkaroola offer the greatest prospects for a clean energy future, the Australia National University projects, offering a moral dilemma for green activists opposed to dams on environmental grounds.

The concerns around a climate 'catastrophe' have led green activists to drive the debate about a 'clean energy future' with the view becoming so pervasive in officialdom, a SA Productivity Commission report on the renewable energy opportunities for the state led with concerns about the climate catastrophe.

On Friday, the ANU said there were 1,500 potential pumped hydro sites within Australia, some capable of generating up to 500 gigawatt hours (GWh) of energy storage across the nation. By contrast, the Kidston and Snowy 2.0 hydro projects currently under construction offer between 2-350 GWh storage opportunities.

The string of sites along the Flinders Ranges are highlighted as further potential, lower-energy storage sites - the only trouble being, few if any are currently inundated as reservoirs:

South Australia's best pumped hydro sites at individual storage capacities of 150GWh or higher were all along these sections of the mapping available here.

The ANU says Australia has 300 times more pumped hydro storage than what the nation needs to support a 100 per cent renewable energy system.

The SA Productivity Commission report released this week says policies that could facilitate transition to renewable energy 'whilst minimising the costs of electricity consumers' potentially include:

"facilitating an increase in the number of providers of on-demand electricity supply in South Australia, particularly of zero greenhouse gas supplies such as long-duration batteries, green-hydrogen fuelled power plants and pumped hydroelectric power plants."

The Commission used the term catastrophic not only to refer to the 'significant transformation of global energy systems required to avert catastrophic climate change', but also the undersupply of electricity to the SA energy grid when the national energy grid went down in 2016.


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