Pumped Hydro Atlas of Australia

Client: Hydro Tasmania
Location: Australia
Date: April–October 2017

Preparing a practical atlas of pumped hydro energy storage opportunities to support development of dispatchable renewable energy generation.


Potential sites for new pumped hydro energy storage projects need to be identified to enable greater penetration of renewables in Australia’s National Electricity Market (NEM).

For this reason, Hydro Tasmania engaged Entura to develop a Pumped Hydro Atlas of Australia.

To determine the best possible sites, the analysis needed to take into account not only topographical suitability, but also consider all the practical, real-world factors involved in creating a viable and successful project.


Entura developed the Pumped Hydro Atlas of Australia identifying the best potential sites across the NEM.

The first step in the development of the atlas was a literature review appraising previous studies. This informed the development of a set of rules, assumptions and algorithms for a GIS-based study of different reservoir types and pairing mechanisms, which were tested on pilot sites.

Using these algorithms, more than 200 000 pairing reservoirs were identified across the NEM states. State-based heat maps of potential sites for pumped hydro development were prepared along with a summary of all key characteristics for each pairing reservoir set, such as installed capacity, energy storage, distance from the nearest substation, gross head, approximate headloss in the waterways, and active reservoir volume.

A subsequent stage of refinement prioritised high-potential sites in some states. This process took into account greater detail, such as costings, practical engineering aspects, environmental approvals and risks, realistic high-level arrangements, proximity to other generators, and characteristics of hydrology and energy storage. This stage identified more than 5000 unique potential sites, which were then further refined with a set of rules to select the best pairing reservoir at each site.  

From this exhaustive process, twenty promising sites were shortlisted for different states with a desktop review of geology, high-level engineering arrangements, and approvals requirements. For each site a map was prepared including locality, land use, planning zones, and key characteristics of the potential project.


The Pumped Hydro Atlas of Australia produced by Entura is a real-world, relevant resource informing future project development.

Overlaying the outputs of this atlas with any new wind and solar development across the NEM could identify viable dispatchable renewable energy generation hubs with the potential to replace retiring thermal generation assets.

The atlas has already been applied to inform and enable Hydro Tasmania to shortlist potential pumped hydro sites for the ‘Battery of the Nation’ program in Tasmania.

The methodology developed in this project is highly repeatable and flexible. This ensures that we can apply it to meet the requirements of other clients.