A recent tweet by Professor Erik Eklund of the Centre for Gippsland Studies highlighted the pumped hydro opportunities in Gippsland, particularly in the Baw Baw area. He outlined the work of Andrew Blakers and team of ANU who identified more than 22,000 possible pumped hydro sites many of them in Gippsland.
I used Erik’s tweet to bring to notice again the work of Paul Treasure’s proposal of 2 years go for a pumped hydro project in the Baw Baws that was about the same size as Snowy 2 and had far less of the latter project’s environmental downsides. Paul’s proposal had numerous other advantages including jobs for the Latrobe Valley and a ready labour pool; it utilised the Thompson dam as the lower dam in the project; it was close to other infrastructure, in particular the high voltage transmission lines to Melbourne. When completed the project would have the capacity to replace the aging Yallourn Power station.
The Friends of the Earth in their Blueprint was one of the few organisations that acknowledged the value of this proposal when they stated: “The blueprint also noted that the selection of pumped hydro projects should be fast tracked of which there are a number of possibilities in Gippsland including Paul Treasure’s Baw Baw Thompson Dam pumped hydro proposal.” Paul’s proposal was also republished by the Independent Australia website.
As well there have been a number of other smaller pumped hydro projects energy storage options including one proposed by Chris Barfoot, which, from memory, used Lake Narracan as the top dam and the Yallourn open cut as the bottom one. The Hazlewood open cut appears unsuitable for this purpose.
This leads us to the question of whether there is anyone working on any of these pumped hydro proposals anywhere in government at a State or local. As far as I am aware, there is no one. Yet the benefits to the state and the region could be enormous if one (or more) of the larger of these projects was seen through to fruition. I am also unaware of any politician at the State or local level to have considered the advantages of pumped hydro for the region, let alone promoted them in any way.