An image of a hydroelectric dam

Wivenhoe Power Station – the state’s first and only pumped hydro facility – celebrates its 40th year of operation.  

Commissioned in 1984, the station uses excess solar and renewable energy produced during the day to pump water up to Splityard Creek, ready for generation in the evening peak when the sun isn’t shining or when the wind isn’t blowing.  

The Queensland Government said that this milestone demonstrates the resilience, longevity and safety of pumped hydro energy technology and shows how the state will energy grid to reach net zero by 2050. 

Owned and operated by publicly owned CleanCo, the Wivenhoe Pumped Hydro Power Station has the capacity to produce a 570MW or ten hours of continuous clean energy. 

The State Government said that its commitment to the development of pumped hydro projects at Borumba and Pioneer-Burdekin will see Queensland reach its net zero target by 2050. 

Queensland Deputy Premier and Treasurer, Cameron Dick, said, “The Wivenhoe Power Station shows why the Borumba and Pioneer – Burdekin Pumped Hydro Energy Storage projects are so vital to Queensland’s low emissions future.” 

Queensland Minister for Energy and Clean Economy Jobs, Mick de Brenni, said, “For 40 years now, the Queenslanders who crew publicly owned Wivenhoe Pumped Hydro Power Station have worked hard to deliver cheaper, cleaner and more secure energy, and today we recognise how instrumental they are in the transition.” 

Mr de Brenni said that Wivenhoe Pumped Hydro Power Station is a testament to the reliability and longevity of pumped hydro as the only viable technology to store large-scale clean, cheap and reliable power. 

“We know Queensland’s future industry and economy, plus existing jobs, are dependent on Queensland decarbonising its energy system – only possible with the Borumba and Pioneer-Burdekin projects.  

“These projects lock in the pathway for an additional 145,000 clean economy jobs by 2050 and the $430 billion uplift in investment and trade opportunities – mostly in regional Queensland.”  

CleanCo Queensland’s CEO, Tom Metcalfe, said, “CleanCo is honoured to be the custodian of Wivenhoe Power Station and we are proud of the role Wivenhoe Power Station plays in Queensland’s energy transformation. 

“With Queensland’s largest rechargeable battery in our portfolio, CleanCo is uniquely positioned to provide clean, reliable energy 24/7 – this is good for our customers, and for Queensland’s energy network.” 

“Our team at Wivenhoe works incredibly hard to keep the power station operating safely and efficiently – I’d like to thank each and every team member, past and present, for their valuable contributions. 

Wivenhoe’s Power Station Site Manager, Herman Porter, said, “The Wivenhoe team is proud to operate this unique asset in support of Queensland. 

“Over 40 years, the power station has become part of the fabric of the Somerset region. It’s not only a place of employment – it’s also a place where technical capability is developed and lifelong friendships are forged. 

“Our employees are dedicated to ensuring the safe and reliable operation of the power station. Their incredible depth of knowledge and technical skill keeps Wivenhoe running smoothly.” 

Former Wivenhoe Power Station Technical Officer, Trevor Lush, said, “As Wivenhoe was the first pumped storage hydro power station in Queensland and one of only a few in Australia, we were all learning as we went – there were not too many people we could turn to for technical support, especially during the midnight hours. 

“Wivenhoe was originally staffed by five people during daylight hours. The team gradually increased over the years to reach a level where staffing was more realistic and our capabilities increased. 

“I absolutely loved working at Wivenhoe Power Station. There was a real sense of camaraderie where everyone was always willing to assist each other.” 

Former Prime Minister and the President of the International Hydropower Association, Malcolm Turnbull, said, “Our clean energy future demands engineering and economics. 

“The cheapest form of new generation is solar PV and wind. But they need firming with long duration storage and that’s where hydro, especially pumped hydro, is absolutely critical.  

“Queensland is showing great leadership with its development of pumped hydro, following in the footsteps of Wivenhoe hydro which celebrates its 40th birthday today.  

“We have all the tools and technologies to complete the clean energy transition – solar, wind and storage – batteries for short term, pumped hydro for long term.  

“But we have to build it. Our scarcest resource is time.” 

Image credit: Editing Room/ 

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