An idea to convert underground coal mines into pumped hydro storage facilities is about to be tested in a feasibility study to be conducted at an old coal mine near Newcastle that could lead to a 600MW facility being established there.
The $13.4 million feasibility study and pilot project will be undertaken at the Newstan Colliery owned by Centennial Coal, and is looking to take advantage of the site’s grid connection, proximity to major transmission lines, and the existence of a lower reservoir.
This could help overcome the higher-than-expected costs for pumped hydro that has caused delays, cancellellations, and cost blowouts in a number of proposed pumped hydro storage projects across the country.
Despite a large short-list of projects, a federal government underwriting program has failed to land any funding agreements and only the massive Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro scheme is going ahead, through the government owned Snowy Hydro, despite many concerns about its commercial viability and environmental impacts.
Funding support for the Centennial Coal study is being led by the NSW state government, which is providing $4.16 million through its Emerging Energy Program, which is also supporting battery storage and other projects.
The Newstan Colliery, Fassifern, operated for more than 100 years but has been on care and maintenance since 2014, although the company had been canvassing re-starting operations at the mine to exploit the remaining thermal coal and semi-coking coal reserves.