New South Wales PHES atlas

NSW Government Pumped Hydro Roadmap

Fig. 1. Potential upper and lower PHES sites in New South Wales. Scroll down for a higher resolution image.

New South Wales (NSW) has over 20,000 reservoirs that could form the basis of 98,000 possible off-river pumped hydro schemes – representing an opportunity of 50 terawatts in firm generation capacity. In 2018, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has projected that NSW will need 9,000 megawatts of utility-scale energy storage. This is less than 1 per cent of the mapped opportunities.

The NSW Government has overlaid 35 datasets to help rate the possible schemes on a comparative basis across the state. This took into consideration their technical credentials, commercial characteristics and environmental constraints. The results are presented through an ‘opportunity score’ showing the strength of opportunities in relative terms. The exercise has highlighted six clusters of significant opportunities across the state in the North East, Lower North Coast, Central West, Shoalhaven, South East, and Riverina.

For more information, please refer to the following press release:

NSW Pumped for Cleaner Energy Future press release (pdf, 161 K)

The Roadmap can be downloaded here.


This kmz file contains 1214 promising pairs of upper and lower NSW greenfield off-river reservoirs. They can be visualised by opening with Google Earth. Specifications are: minimum head = 300m; reservoir wall height for both upper and lower reservoirs = 40m; minimum W/R ratio = 3 (where W = volume of stored water and R = volume of rock in the reservoir wall); minimum reservoir volume = 1 Gigalitre (corresponding approximately to 1 GWh of energy storage for 400m head); maximum distance between upper/lower reservoir pairs = 10km and minimum H/D ratio = 1:10 (where H = head and D = horizontal distance between upper and lower reservoirs).

In the future we hope to extend the NSW paired searching as follows: minimum head of 200m; utilising dam wall heights of 10m, 20m, 40m and 80m; preparation of a figure of merit to allow rank-ordering of thousands of reservoir pairs.

Google Earth can be used to view the potential reservoirs within the .kmz/.kml file. 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.

Please refer to our Google Earth FAQs for more information.

NSW Class A Paired Reservoir Locations .kml file (.kml, 9.4 M)

NSW Lower 40 m Reservoirs W/R = 3 (xlsx, 517 K)

NSW Upper 40 m Reservoirs W/R = 3 (xlsx, 159 K)

NSW Class A pairs (xlsx, 334 K)

NSW Class A Paired Reservoir Locations 3D .kml file (.kmz, 10.6 M)

NSW Class A Reservoir Locations 3D .kml file (.kmz, 87.2 M)

Detailed resources are located HERE.

The following links direct to maps showing the pairs and all the class A reservoir locations for NSW respectively. Click on a reservoir to see details.

Google Map link for paired reservoir locations in NSW

Google Map link for all class A reservoir locations in NSW

Fig. 1. Regions within New South Wales.

Pumped Hydro to support wind and solar

New South Wales has 200 times more PHES resources than that required to decarbonise the electricity supply within this region. Many of these sites have good colocation with infrastructure, such as transmission lines, and are also located within renewable energy hubs - such as Glen Innes. Interconnection with other regions, demand management and local storage are needed in order to ensure stable and affordable supply into the future. Pumped hydro energy storage (PHES) is the most mature and widely deployed electricity storage technology worldwide – 97% of globally installed grid storage is pumped hydro.

Although Australia is known to be arid, there is ample water to allow the use of closed-cycle PHES systems to balance the electricity grid. We calculate the annual requirement to be less than 1% of South Australia's annual extraction from the Murray River.

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. 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 atlas.

Previous Work

Previous work for NSW can be found at this location.

Updated:  13 December 2018/ Responsible Officer:  RE100 Leader/ Page Contact:  RE100 Webmaster