Enabling Development Approval And Design For A Pumped Hydro Project In South Australia

Project Info

Altura Group

Port Augusta, South Australia, Australia


As Australia’s energy market transitions to greater proportions of variable renewable energy sources, storage solutions for reliable supply are needed. Pumped hydro energy storage is an alternative to large-scale batteries, with the advantage of providing long-duration storage. Goat Hill is an inland pumped hydro project with a capacity of up to 250 MW and 8 hours of storage, located approximately 12km west of Port Augusta, South Australia.    

Golder was engaged to assist the client in securing development approval and assess the geotechnical conditions that may affect the project. This included geotechnical site investigations and technical studies which assisted in the development of a reference design. 

Our team prepared and submitted a development application, considering the potential environmental risks and community concerns. This required supporting technical studies to demonstrate that potential impacts could be avoided or managed. 

Our approach involved assigning an initial risk rating to each potential risk aspect. We undertook a detailed technical assessment to better understand key potential impacts and to build relevant mitigation measures into the design and construction methodology. Studies included surface water hydrology, ecology, traffic and transport routes.  

We were also engaged to perform a range of technical studies and document a preliminary digital earthworks model to support planning for the delivery of the project. This involved a range of activities including geotechnical gap analysis and scoping of additional site investigations; assessment of escarpment and slope stability; design of the reservoir embankment; assessment of liner options; geotechnical and hydrogeological advice to inform design of the powerhouse; advice on excavation methods and material suitability; and integration of the civil earthworks design with the digital geological model. 

Our studies helped to identify and manage key risks and reduce the uncertainties relating to ground conditions. The project obtained development approval with no objections from state government agencies, local council or community members.  

Once operational, the project will provide reliable, cost-effective energy storage and flexible generation to support a high penetration of renewable resources, powering approximately 135,000 homes, and will support the local economy through an estimated 200 jobs and other indirect economic benefits.  

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