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Hydro Directorate hosts expert forum

The CEC Hydropower Directorate hosted an expert forum on 18 February that looked at how Norway’s Hydrobalance program and IEA Hydropower's forward work program are relevant to Australia.

The Hydropower Directorate was joined by Atle Harby, Norwegian Senior Research Scientist at SINTEF Energy Research, and Niels Nielson, the Secretariat of IEA Hydropower, for a conversation about the importance of hydropower and energy storage as we move from an electricity system based on coal-fired generation to one that relies on renewables.

The Australian Energy Market Operator’s Integrated System Plan forecasts that the most cost-effective replacement for Australia's ageing coal-fired generation fleet will be achieved with a mix of renewables, complemented by more than 17 GW of utility-scale energy storage. The presentations at the expert forum aligned with this message, highlighting the importance of “hydrobalancing”, including the value of energy storage that can flexibly operate for long periods of time to manage energy system fluctuations.

We have already seen the extraordinary progress that large- and small-scale batteries have made in recent years, but there is also strong interest in pumped hydro as an alternative form of storage. While this is best illustrated by Snowy 2.0 and Hydro Tasmania's Battery of the Nation, there are approximately a dozen other projects under active development.

The industry forum with Dr Atle Harby highlighted the huge potential for utility-scale energy storage to balance the electricity system and support very high penetration rates of wind and solar. As Australia’s energy generation profile tilts towards renewables, it will be important for the industry to understand how Australia’s hydropower assets can be best utilised to deliver a clean, affordable and reliable energy system for Australian consumers.

The CEC and the Hydropower Directorate are currently preparing a fact sheet highlighting the valuable role that hydropower can play in supporting the security and stability of the National Electricity Market.