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Renewable future for retired coal mine

18 December 2020

Joint media release with New South Wales Minister for Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean

The Morrison and Berejiklian governments are backing a trial project that will look at transforming an old coal mine into a source of reliable renewable energy to power households and businesses across New South Wales.

Centennial Coal will investigate the feasibility of turning its underground coal mine at Lake Macquarie into a pumped hydro energy site.

If found to be feasible, the site could supply an additional 600 megawatts of energy to the grid, helping to keep the lights on across New South Wales.

The Lake Macquarie site has a number of existing features that would lower the cost of repurposing the facility for pumped hydro, including a reservoir, a grid connection and available water sources.

If the trial is successful, it could lead to the repurposing of other retired sites, giving them a second life as clean and dispatchable sources of renewable energy and providing ongoing jobs for regional communities.

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said the trial will help determine if end-of-life coal facilities can be repurposed to continue contributing to Australia’s energy mix.

“The Government is focused on getting the best energy outcomes for Australian households and businesses, and this requires new dispatchable sources of generation like gas and pumped hydro to complement intermittent renewables,” Minster Taylor said.

“This study will give us a better understanding of the commercial advantages that underground pumped hydro energy storage provides.

“By repurposing old sites and taking advantage of the features at those facilities, we can bring more clean energy projects online that bring down emissions and deliver the secure and reliable power Australians need.”

New South Wales Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean said supporting long-duration storage projects like pumped hydro is a key part of the NSW Government’s recently announced Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap.

“Pumped hydro is not only a great source of cheap, reliable electricity, it is a huge creator of construction jobs and investment for host communities and the broader economy,” Mr Kean said.

“This project could change the way we rehabilitate retired mine sites - breathing new life into existing infrastructure links and supporting existing workforces and local economies to continue their contribution to our energy mix.”

The Federal Government is providing $995,000 through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, and the New South Wales Government is injecting $4.1 million through the Emerging Energy Program to support the $13 million trial.

The project could create up to 1,000 jobs during the construction phase, as well as ongoing employment opportunities for locals.

Media contact:

Minister Taylor's office: 02 6277 7120