Pumped hydro pipes

Construction is officially underway on Western Australia’s first pumped hydro solution, with the 1.5MW pumped hydro facility utilising two farm dams to store 30MW hours of energy.

The pumped hydro solution will supply power to the Walpole townsite in the event of an outage.

The renewable microgrid collaborative project between Western Australia-based engineering company, Power Research and Development (PRD), and Western Power, will see the self-sufficient renewable solution significantly improve power reliability for homes and businesses in Walpole.

Western Australian Energy Minister, Bill Johnston, said, “Walpole is at the end of a 125km-long feeder line that is exposed to disruptive elements such as vegetation and animals, storms, lightning and bushfires.

“The pumped hydro solution will reduce the number of outages in Walpole using green energy at no additional cost to businesses or the community while generating quality local jobs. 

“This project plays an important role in our clean energy future, supports the increasing rise of renewables, and assists in balancing power demand and supply.”

It will be used as a blueprint for other parts of the state, and possibly nationally and internationally. 

The project was awarded $2 million as part of the Western Australian Government’s Clean Energy Future Fund, which supports the implementation of innovative clean energy projects in the state.

Western Australian Environment and Climate Action Minister, Reece Whitby, said he is proud the State Government’s Clean Energy Future Fund can contribute to this innovative local project that will help improve power reliability for the people of Walpole.

“This is exactly the type of project the fund has been set up for.

“It’s invaluable in supporting initiatives which can drive down emissions and have the potential for widespread rollout.”  

The project is boosting employment and economic growth in the area, with Denmark-based company MCC Contractors undertaking the main earthworks creating 12 jobs, with an additional 38 jobs in other trades, services, and design work.

On the distribution side of the project, Western Power is finalising works to connect Walpole homes and businesses to the world-class energy solution. 

Following the completion of the lower dam, works on the upper dam and pipe installation to connect the two dams will be completed next year. 

The renewable microgrid is expected to be operational in the second half of 2023.

Power Research and Development Director, Colin Stonehouse, said, “It is gratifying for Pumped-Up Walpole proceeding to plan, which is due to the great work of our project team, Western Power’s team, the State Government’s Clean Energy Future Fund and support of our world-class equipment suppliers.

“The project has given us confidence to commence planning for other pumped hydro renewable microgrids on the edge of grid towns in Western Australia.

“Of around 30 well-suited towns we are looking at so far, our aspiration is to have five ready to proceed after Walpole,” Mr Stonehouse said.

Member for Warren-Blackwood, Jane Kelsbie, said she is excited the people of Walpole can benefit from a unique, green project that will deliver greater energy reliability.

“The government’s investment represents a boost for economic growth and employment in the town, with as many as 50 local jobs being created,” Ms Kelsbie said.

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