NSW Pumped Hydro Opportunity Map © istock; NSW Pumped Hydro Opportunity Map © istock;

NSW Pumped Hydro Roadmap, NSW

Supporting implementation of renewable energy generation in Australia

The New South Wales (NSW) Government engaged Arup to locate the regions in the state with the best potential for development as pumped hydro storage systems which could increase network stability and make better use of the energy generated by renewable sources.

The final result is a sophisticated ‘pumped hydro roadmap’ to help guide and give developers confidence to invest in this renewable energy storage technology. The map provides a holistic assessment of the environmental, economic and technical parameters that need to be considered when assessing such developments.

Project Summary


122,000 reservoir pairs analysed through a multi-criteria analysis

35data sets used to develop 11 criteria to identify the strongest regions

6key regions identified

Why pumped hydro?

Renewable energy is the future, but much of the energy it generates, such as when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing, is lost to networks designed for stable, continuous energy production that can’t handle sudden spikes in volume. To capture and use renewable energy when required, a storage system is needed.

NSW has great potential to develop electricity storage facilities in the form of pumped hydro – a system of energy delivery that has existed since the 19th century, where water runs between two reservoirs – one upper and one lower. When energy demand is low, water is pumped from the lower reservoir to the higher one. And when demand is high, the water is released back through the pumps, which act as turbines to generate electricity that can be released into the grid in seconds.

This project was very satisfying in that it gave us a real sense of doing something practical to increase the uptake of renewable energy use – something close to Arup’s heart. ”

Mike Straughton Mike Straughton Australasia Environment and Resources Leader
NSW Pumped Hydro Opportunity Map © Arup NSW Pumped Hydro Opportunity Map © Arup

Making the most of our opportunities

To support the uptake and use of renewable energy, Arup created a ‘pumped hydro roadmap’ for the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.

We combined our expertise with geographic information system-based data from the Australian National University (ANU). In a truly integrated approach, the map used 35 data sets to identify possible environmental, commercial and technical constraints and highlight areas of greater accessibility to both roads and the grid.

Undertaking this analysis allowed us and the Department for Planning & Environment to really show potential developers the scale of the opportunity for pumped storage. ”

Natasha Schlichtkrull head shot Natasha Schlichtkrull Consultant and Project Manager, Energy Advisory Services

Our analysis assessed over 122,000 possible reservoir pairs generated by the ANU data. Through a multi-criteria analysis which scored each identified constraint and opportunity, the number of possible schemes was narrowed down to 98,000. Through this process the team identified six key regions across NSW as the best areas for pumped hydro projects.

The NSW Government now has a ‘ready reckoner’ to help boost developers’ confidence in the opportunity for pumped hydro and also support the use of renewable energy – an exciting step towards a greener, cleaner future for the state.

Read the Pumped Hydro Roadmap and Handbook here.