SA continues renewable energy push

SA Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis says four companies will share $9 million in grants.
SA Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis says four companies will share $9 million in grants.

South Australia could soon have more pumped hydro power as the state continues its move towards renewable energy.

Four companies will receive state government grants ranging from $500,000 to $4.7 million to conduct feasibility work for pumped hydro power plants near Whyalla, Port Augusta and Port Germein, Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said on Thursday.

"The key to lowering power prices in South Australia is boosting competition, and these projects have the potential to dispatch cheap renewable energy when demand is high," Mr Koutsantonis said in a statement.

British industrialist Sanjeev Gupta's GFG Alliance, who recently invested in Whyalla steelworks, will receive $500,000 towards a $1.7 million feasibility study for a pumped hydro plant at a mine site in the Middleback Ranges.

Mr Gupta said the project would look at the engineering and geotechnical challenges along with commercial evaluations of converting the depleted iron ore pit into a pumped hydro plant.

"This can be a game changer for our highly energy-intensive industries such as steel and aluminium," Mr Gupta said in a statement.

In other projects, the Altura Group secured $4.7 million towards a pumped hydro energy storage facility near Port Augusta.

The 230-megawatt plant would require a total investment of around $410 million to be built.

A potential hydro project at Cultana, north of Whyalla would create 200 jobs during construction, with EnergyAustralia receiving $500,000 towards the feasibility of a 225-megawatt facility.

"Projects like these require a significant amount of work before reaching a final investment decision," company spokesman Julian Turecek said.

Rise Renewables will get $3 million for a possible $406 million project northeast of Port Germein to place a pumped hydro plant next to the Baroota Reservoir.