ACT and district PHES atlas

Fig. 1. Potential PHES sites in the Canberra district (Google Earth). Click here for a higher resolution image.

The ACT has relatively few potential sites for pumped hydro energy storage (PHES) sites due to the large fraction of the territory’s mountains that is occupied by Namadgi National Park. However, there are many good potential sites in the surrounding district. We found a total of 871 nearby potential sites with a combined energy storage potential that is about 200 times larger than the ACT & district share of the storage needed to support a 100% renewable electricity grid. The large number of nearby sites provides some confidence that there will be a good number of technically feasible PHES sites. Site searching and development of a PHES cost model are being explored as part of an ARENA funded project.

These sites were found using algorithms with defined search criteria within a geographic information system (GIS) platform. This platform was used to find detailed information, such as head, reservoir areas, and storage capacity. This list is not yet exhaustive – for example, mining pits have not yet been analysed. We are also in the process of developing a cost model that will determine the least cost option for the tunnelling between two reservoirs, and therefore the location of the lower reservoir. This information will be available in future releases of the ACT atlas.

A simplified cost model can also be downloaded below.


An atlas of pumped hydro energy storage: South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania and the Canberra district (pdf, 2.7 MB)

An atlas of pumped hydro energy storage: Figures (pdf, 2 MB)

ACT spreadsheet (xlsx, 137 KB)

This spreadsheet contains a list of sites, and the basic characteristics of those sites. At this stage, matched lower reservoirs are not included. Head is assumed to be 400 m to allow an estimate of the potential energy storage.

ACT .kmz file (.kmz, 7.1 MB)

Google Earth can be used to view the potential sites. This software is free, and widely accessible. When used in 3-D mode with 3:1 vertical exaggeration, Google Earth provides good visualisation from any direction. This .kmz file can be loaded in the "Places" field to allow the user to visualise the potential reservoirs. These are shown with a representation of the dam walls. Clicking on a blue reservoir displays a pop-up with information about that reservoir, as does clicking on a dam wall.

Simplified PHES Calculator (xlsx, 12 KB)

Updated:  18 August 2017/ Responsible Officer:  RE100 Leader/ Page Contact:  RE100 Webmaster