Australia’s newly elected government is placing the state-owned Snowy Hydro plant at the vanguard of another energy transition by transforming it into a massive “water battery” that will help keep the lights on as the country shifts from an electricity grid based mainly on fossil fuels to one built around renewable energy. Pumped hydro is a century-old technology, which provides about 95 per cent of worldwide energy storage linked to electricity grid systems. It works by using excess or cheap power at off-peak times to pump water into raised water basins, from where it can be released to generate electricity when demand and prices are highest. The need for storage is expected to accelerate massively with the greater use of renewables – and while there has been a lot of hype surrounding lithium batteries, pumped hydro is expected to remain the backbone for the renewables revolution.
FT 28th May 2019 read more »