The Lake Lyell Pumped Hydro Project

EnergyAustralia is investigating the feasibility of a utility-scale pumped hydro energy storage project on land and waterways it owns near Lithgow, in NSW.

It’s our commitment to develop and design this project in consultation with locals – to maintain Lake Lyell as an accessible recreational area, and to co-create a range of new community benefits.

Energy storage plays a vital part in the clean energy transformation. It supports and makes the most of renewable energy sources by capturing excess energy when renewable supply is plentiful and storing it for use when needed.

The project would use water from Lake Lyell (a man-made lake originally built to support local power stations), existing transmission infrastructure, and see the development of a purpose-built upper reservoir behind the southern ridge of Mount Walker (not visible to the majority of Lithgow).

Expected to operate for up to 80 years, this project will generate 335 MW of electricity for 8 hours at a time – offering more reliable and affordable energy to support homes and business in the Central West region, and across the state.

Why is it needed?

NSW is undergoing a ‘once in a century’ transition to develop new, renewable energy sources, reduce emissions and ensure a reliable, affordable energy supply following the closure of the state’s coal-fired power stations.

New clean energy projects are needed to meet a tremendous increase in energy demand – as homes and businesses electrify and new industries, like electric transport and green manufacturing, take off.

This utility-scale pumped hydro energy storage and generation project will play a vital part in Australia’s clean energy transformation.

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What will it look like?

The Concept Design emphasises our commitment to mitigating environmental, cultural heritage and other important impacts through site-sensitive design. This includes changes made following consultation with the community and initial environmental studies.

  • Upper reservoir location: The upper reservoir's location in the gully on the southwest flank of Mt Walker responds to community feedback, ensuring it remains out of sight for the majority of Lithgow.
  • Underground powerhouse: The powerhouse will be situated underground, reducing both visual and noise impacts. Access to the powerhouse will be via two tunnels from portals built on the north side of Farmers Creek.
  • Site access roadsParts of Sir Thomas Mitchell Drive will be widened and improved to facilitate site access. Entering from Sir Thomas Mitchell Drive, a double-lane road will access the site. Most of the road will be shielded from view by the natural ridgelines.
  • Water intake and Farmers Creek diversion: A diversion connecting the upper arm of the lake to Farmers Creek will be created to allow construction of the water intake, and to help avoid impacts on local platypus and fish.
  • Switchyard location: The 330kV switchyard, connecting to existing transmission lines, will be located at the lakeside on the south side of the Farmers Creek Arm largely shielded from view from Sir Thomas Mitchell Drive.
  • Material management: Excess material from excavating the upper reservoir, tunnels and underground powerhouse will be repurposed to infill a section of Farmers Creek below the diversion, while the rest will be stockpiled and revegetated to blend with the environment.
  • Temporary accommodation: During construction, approximately 400 workers will be housed in temporary accommodation. We are still considering the appropriate location for the camp and community feedback will form part of that decision.

Concept Design

Have a question about the project’s Concept Design? Below you can watch our project team explain it in a webinar recording, view the webinar slides or check out our FAQs.
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Pumped hydro explained

Pumped hydro is a type of energy storage that uses gravity to store and release energy.

When surplus wind or solar power is available, the system pumps water from a lower reservoir into an upper reservoir. Then, when consumer energy demand is high, the water from the upper reservoir is released and flows downhill, spinning a turbine to generate electricity. This cycle is highly efficient and can be repeated over and over to create electricity when required.

Pumped hydro complements renewable energy sources like solar and wind. It allows the capture of energy when renewable supply is plentiful, storing it for later when it's needed.

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Who are we?

EnergyAustralia is a leading energy generator and retailer. We provide energy to over 1.6 million customers across Eastern Australia and employ around 2,300 people, including our team at the Mount Piper Power Station near Lithgow.

Our purpose is to lead and accelerate the clean energy transformation for all.

The Lake Lyell Pumped Hydro Project reflects our purpose and is an important project in our strategy to help make the energy transition simple and reliable for customers by combining behind-the-meter solutions such as rooftop solar with a growing flexible energy portfolio, such as grid-scale batteries and pumped hydro.

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