The 500MW Dungowan project is a pumped hydro energy storage (PHES) power plant, which is proposed to be developed in New South Wales (NSW), Australia.

The project is being implemented by Walcha Energy, a partnership between MirusWind and Energy Estate. It forms a part of the larger 4GW Walcha Energy Project, which aims to develop wind, solar and PHES project at an estimated cost between A$3bn ($2.12bn) and A$6bn ($4.24bn), near the town of Walcha in NSW.

Expected to be operational by 2025, the hydropower project will supply sufficient electricity to power approximately 125,000 households.

Dungowan pumped hydro storage project location

Dungowan hydroelectric project will be developed on the existing 6.4 megalitre Dungowan Dam, approximately 45km south-west of Tamworth in the New England region of NSW.

The project location is surrounded by deep gorges on the east and Walcha plateau on the south, making the location suitable for pumped hydro storage. The Walcha Energy Project is expected to be a major part of the New England renewable energy zone (REZ), which was proposed by the NSW state government in July 2020.

Dungowan pumped hydro storage project development

Tamworth Regional Council signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Walcha Energy and Arup to study the feasibility of a pumped storage hydro project near the Dungowan Dam in November 2018.

"Expected to be operational by 2025, the hydropower project will supply sufficient electricity to power approximately 125,000 households."

Walcha Energy started working on the next phase of the feasibility study in June 2019. The study will also evaluate the possibilities of water security enhancement through the PHES scheme design and expansion of the existing catchment due to the growing drought in NSW and pressure on water supply for the Tamworth region.

Arup conducted a site assessment study on the PHES development options at Dungowan dam in 2019.

Details of Dungowan hydropower project

The pumped hydro energy storage project has potential for three PHES projects each with a dispatchable electricity capacity of 500MW and storage capacity of eight hours. The project partners identified three separate locations with separate upper and lower reservoirs.

PHES will provide detachable energy supply and help to make up for the lost power capacity from the decommissioning of coal-fired power stations, starting in 2022, and meet the grid demand.

The Dungowan PHES project is part of the ‘Dungowan Renewable Energy Hub’, which falls under phase two of the Walcha Energy Project.

The Dungowan Hub will include a new 810MW transmission line between Liddell and Dungowan.

Funding details

Walcha Energy received funding for pre-investment studies of the Dungowan PHES under the A$75m ($53.67m) NSW Emerging Energy Programme in 2019. The pre-investment studies include evaluation of commercial, hydrological and technical feasibility of the project.

Walcha Energy Project

Walcha Energy Project comprises renewable energy development of 3.8GW of wind and 700MW of solar and pumped hydro and battery storage projects with a total capacity of more than 4GW in the proposed New England REZ, one of Australia’s largest renewable energy zones.

The project is being developed in four phases. Uralla Renewable Energy Hub will be developed in phase one, Dungowan Hub in phase two, while wind and the solar hubs will be developed in phases three and four with new connections under the latest Integrated System Plan.

The project already includes the 700MW Winterbourne wind farm, 700MW Salisbury solar farm and 700MW Ruby Hills wind farm, which will be unified under the Uralla Renewable Energy Hub.

Contractors involved

GE Renewable Energy signed an agreement with Walcha Energy for the joint development of the Dungowan hydroelectric project in August 2020.

GE Renewable Energy Hydro Solutions, a subsidiary of GE Renewable Energy, will provide technical and commercial support for the development of the project.

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