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QLD’s pumped hydro project gains momentum

The Queensland Government’s proposed pumped hydro project at Pioneer-Burdekin has received a major boost.

According to the government, geotechnical drilling has revealed the presence of very strong, coarse competent granite rock, making Pioneer-Burdekin an ideal location for dam construction, tunnels, and potentially multiple underground multi-turbine powerhouses.

The drilling was conducted by Mackay-based company Twin Hills Engineering, with investigations carried out by WSP and SMEC. The proposed hydro power station aims to store surplus renewable energy, providing a reliable power source for Queensland during periods when solar and wind energy are not available.

The innovative project involves pumping water up the Great Dividing Range when power is plentiful and cheap. The water is then released during the evening peak when energy is scarcer and prices higher, using gravity to generate immense power. This process is expected to help drive down energy prices for households.

The Pioneer-Burdekin project is set to deliver the world’s largest water battery of its kind.

The investigations drilled to a depth of 850 meters, yielding 3800 meters of geotechnical cores, mostly extracted by local drillers, Twin Hills Engineering.

To date, 33 boreholes have been completed along with 20 test pits.

The tests have revealed two main types of rock at the site, compared to over 20 types at the Snowy Hydro site. These results will be instrumental in refining the project design to lower costs and improve delivery timeframes. More data will lead to a more detailed design specification and lower risk.

Drawing on international experience, the best examples of project-definition work can reduce both project timelines and costs by roughly 20 percent.

QLD’s Energy Minister Mick de Brenni said the quality of these core samples upholds the many years of preliminary assessments the Government has done across multiple locations, and is another win for Queensland’s Energy and Jobs Plan.

“I have said all along that this project will be delivered on time, and this is just further proof the characteristics of Queensland’s landscape mean this project will be fundamentally different to that of Snowy 2.0,” he said.

“Queensland Hydro advises me that due to the quality of these core samples, it opens up a broader range of options for the project’s design, and may also lead to an improved project schedule.”

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