New geotechnical drilling and ground investigations are underway at Borumba Dam near Imbil, Queensland, to help determine its suitability for a landmark clean energy project.

The findings of the ground investigations this year will help determine if a proposed pumped hydro energy storage project could help power two million Queensland homes.

Pumped hydro stores energy by using two reservoirs at different elevations, circulating and reusing the same water.

Its ability to store significant amounts of energy would allow more renewable solar and wind power to enter the market in Queensland.

For pumped hydro at Borumba, a new dam would be required upstream of the existing Borumba Dam to create the upper reservoir and be filled from future rain events.

Headrace and tailrace tunnels, and an underground power station would link the two dams to enable water to be pumped from the lower reservoir to the upper reservoir, and for water released from the upper reservoir to drive turbines to generate renewable electricity.

Queensland Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen, Mick de Brenni, said the Queensland Government and Powerlink were collaborating to undertake the necessary site research.

“Pumped hydro at Borumba could deliver more clean energy to Queensland, and support 2,000 jobs during construction,” Mr de Brenni said.

“Borumba’s existing dam infrastructure and location in the electricity network shows its potential to support development of more renewables in the Southern Queensland Renewable Energy Zones.

“But there is more work to be done to ensure high levels of environmental protections, and community consultation will play a critical role to ensure that.

“We’re investing $22 million into this, so the process will be thorough and well considered.

“Over the coming months, our investigations will include detailed hydrological modelling, design of environmental protections, local community and economic opportunities, engineering design and financial modelling.

“This early geotechnical work involves small-scale drilling to investigate geological aspects of the area as part of those wider studies.”

Geotechnical drilling and testing will primarily focus on three main areas around Borumba Dam, including the proposed location of any new dam wall, upper reservoir and underground power station.

Community information sessions were held in December 2021, with more to be held in Imbil and Gympie on 23 and 24 March 2022.

A Stakeholder Reference Group made up of organisations and individuals that reflect environmental and conservation, economic, recreational and community interests will hold its first meeting in Gympie on 24 March.

Powerlink Project Director Pumped Hydro Developments, Chris Evans, said two drilling crews using small geotechnical investigation drilling rigs would be onsite over the coming weeks.

“We’re conscious this is a peak period for visitors to the area, in particular the dam itself, so we will seek to minimise any impacts on the community,” Mr Evans said.

“We thank the community for its understanding and patience while we undertake this important work.”

To learn more about the Borumba Dam project, click here.

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