Other projects identified as CSSIs include the Pacific Highway Upgrade, the Inland Rail project and the 2.2 GW PHES power station Snowy 2.0. Our sister publication, Energy storage newsreported that in 2020 the New South Wales Government awarded CSSI classification to Oven Mountain, a $1 billion, 600MW/7,200MWh energy storage project.

Of the six new CSSI projects, three proposed transmission projects will connect additional renewable energy generators to the National Energy Market (NEM) to attract further investment into NSW. The other three proposed pumped hydro projects will provide reliable power generation, capacity and dispatchable power when solar or wind resources are unavailable.

Pumped hydro and solar storage triumph in new CSSI allocation

The CSSI listing includes the Stratford Pumped Hydro and Solar project. Proposed at the Stratford Renewable Energy Hub, the project consists of a 330MW solar farm alongside a pumped hydro storage facility with a capacity of 3,600MWh on a 12-hour cycle.

The behind-the-meter solar farm would provide some of the energy needed to charge the pumped hydro during the daytime hours, when there is already surplus renewable electricity in the grid. It will also utilise existing mine cavities and infrastructure associated with the Stratford Mining Complex, which is due to close in 2024.

In addition to the Stratford project, the Muswellbrook and Lake Lyell pumped storage plants have also been designated as CSSIs.

Muswellbrook will generate 250MW of hydroelectric power with eight hours of storage capacity for 2GWh of stored energy. This will feed electricity into existing nearby power transmission lines. It is being developed by AGL and Idemitsu Australia.

On the other hand, Lake Lyell has a proposed capacity of 335MW and a storage duration of eight hours. It has an operational life of 80 years and is being studied by EnergyAustralia.

The project would use water from the existing purpose-built Lake Lyell Dam and a new purpose-built upper reservoir behind the southern ridge of Mount Walker to operate a utility-scale energy storage project.

Other projects classified as CSSIs include the New England Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) Transmission project, the Victoria NSW Interconnector and the Mount Piper to Wallerawang Transmission.

New South Wales Minister for Planning and Public Spaces Paul Scully stressed that the classification of the new CSSIs was “a vote of confidence from the wider industry in our government’s ability to move projects through the planning system”.

“These projects will be subject to a comprehensive review, including a public exhibition where submissions from the community will be sought,” he added.