The Queensland government has signed two key contracts for the world’s largest pumped hydro energy project. The proposed 5 GW/120 GWh Pioneer-Burdekin pumped hydro storage system forms the cornerstone of Australia’s state energy transition. .
Twin Hills Engineering and Drilling and Water2Wire – a joint venture between international engineering heavyweight GHD, London-headquartered civil engineers Mott MacDonald and Canadian design and engineering firm Stantec – have been awarded the first contracts for the Queensland state government’s A$12 billion ($8.06 billion) . ) Pioneer-Burdekin Pumped Hydro Energy Storage (PHES) project.
The project is advertised as possibly the largest PHES project in the world. Designed to be delivered in two phases by 2035, when completed the project is expected to provide 5GW of generating capacity for 24 hours – equivalent to around half of the Australian state’s peak use.
Queensland Energy Minister Mick de Brenni said the project, which is expected to unlock high-quality wind and solar generation sources in the nearby Central and North Queensland Renewable Energy Belts, will provide the long-term storage and reliability needed to power Queensland’s clean energy future.
“The project is a cornerstone of the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan,” he said. “This mega pumped hydro project will act like a giant battery and when connected to the Queensland SuperGrid will support the reliability of our publicly owned grid by storing the energy produced by our renewable energy zones.”
With preliminary studies showing that the first phase of the project could be completed by 2032, Twin Hills Engineering and Drilling has this week been awarded a geotechnical contract, a key part of the project’s exploration phase.
The six-month shallow drilling program informs project planning, which is an integral part of the project’s detailed analytical report. The report is due to be presented to the Queensland Government in 2024.
The geotechnical contract is awarded after the Water2Wire joint venture partnership was appointed to deliver front-end design and engineering (FEED) for the Pioneer-Burdekin project.
Queensland Hydro, the new public entity set up to oversee the delivery of pumped water projects planned by the state government, said the Water2Wire joint venture would bring significant engineering, hydropower expertise and the ability to define project specifications, schedule and cost parameters.
The Water2Wire team has delivered a number of FEED engineering projects, including Queensland Hydro’s proposed 2 GW Borumba Pumped Water Project, Genex’s 250 MW Kidston PHES in North Queensland, the 15 GW Lake Onslow PHES in New Zealand and the 3 GW Bath County PHES in the US. Kingdom.
Queensland Hydro CEO Kieran Cusack said the appointments were a benefit to the project.
“Both Twin Hills and Water2Wire had excellent bid responses that showcased both their impressive capabilities and strong local connections,” he said. “Water2Wire’s recent work on high profile projects such as Borumba and Kidston and their combined expertise in delivering pumped hydro projects around the world will be a great asset to this project. We are also happy to partner with a local family business that employs local workers.
The project is expected to support more than 3,000 jobs during construction, and de Brenni said it would also provide “hundreds of supply chain opportunities. It’s areas like Mackay that are at the heart of this Queensland renewable energy transformation – unlocking new industrial jobs in hydrogen, renewables, manufacturing and critical minerals in the field.