The New South Wales Government has also agreed to provide AUD4.16m ($3.14m) for the study

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The proposed PHES project is expected to have 600MW of capacity. (Credit: hangela from Pixabay)

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), on behalf of the Australian Government, has agreed to fund a feasibility study in order to use an underground coal mine as part of a Pumped Hydro Energy Storage (PHES) scheme in New South Wales.

The study will be jointly funded by ARENA and the New South Wales Government, where ARENA will provide AUD995,000 ($751,966).

The New South Wales Government has agreed to provide AUD4.16m ($3.14m). The study will focus on technical review and pilot trial to examine the feasibility of repurposing an underground coal mine, which has been on care and maintenance since 2014.

The repurposing of the mine will be for for pumped hydro just south west of Newcastle at Newstan Colliery, Fassifern.

The proposed PHES project is expected to have 600MW of capacity and would create nearly a 1,000 jobs during the construction phase and a further 50 jobs during its operational phase.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said: “Through Centennial’s study we aim to discover the factors that could lead to broad commercialisation uptake in repurposing brownfield sites and giving them a second life as energy storage facilities to support the growing share of renewable energy in our system.

“On top of potentially lower construction costs by using the site, there would be future employment opportunities in the construction and operation of a PHES scheme.”

If built, the conversion of Centennial’s underground coal mine for a pumped hydro project is expected to bring down the cost of civil construction works relative to the standard PHES projects.

The expected reduction in costs will be due to the existence of a lower reservoir, the site already being grid connected, close to transmission lines and access to a secure water source.

Centennial external relations executive general manager Katie Brassil said: “We are excited to be working with ARENA and the NSW Government on this pumped hydro project which represents an important and tangible step in evolving Centennial’s business from one solely based on coal, to a diversified energy company.

“This project will explore the potential to utilise our existing assets of land, geographic proximity to infrastructure, gas and underground mining voids to provide large scale energy storage and dispatchable generation in the future.”