15 February, 2022 · 2 MIN READ

Ground investigations underway at Borumba Dam

Ground investigations and geotechnical testing have begun on a potential clean energy project that could power two million Queensland homes.

Ground investigations and geotechnical testing have begun on a potential clean energy project that could power two million Queensland homes.

Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Mick de Brenni said the Government and Powerlink are undertaking detailed analytical studies this year to determine the suitability of Borumba Dam near Imbil for a major pumped hydro energy storage project.

“Pumped hydro at Borumba could deliver more clean energy to Queensland and support 2,000 jobs during construction,” Mr de Brenni said, visiting the site.

“Borumba’s existing dam infrastructure and location in the electricity network shows its potential to support development of more renewables in the Southern Queensland Renewable Energy Zones.

But there is more work to be done to ensure high levels of environmental protections and community consultation will play a critical role to ensure that. 

“We’re investing $22 million into this so the process will be thorough and well considered.

“Over the coming months our investigations will include detailed hydrological modelling, design of environmental protections, local community and economic opportunities, engineering design and financial modelling.

“This early geotechnical work involves small-scale drilling to investigate geological aspects of the area as part of those wider studies.”

Geotechnical drilling and testing will primarily focus on three main areas around Borumba Dam, including the proposed location of any new dam wall, upper reservoir and underground power station.

Community information sessions were held in December with more to be held in Imbil and Gympie on 23 and 24 March. 

A Stakeholder Reference Group made up of organisations and individuals that reflect environmental and conservation, economic, recreational and community interests will hold its first meeting in Gympie on 24 March.

Powerlink Project Director Pumped Hydro Developments Chris Evans said two drilling crews using small geotechnical investigation drilling rigs would be onsite over the coming weeks.

“We’re conscious this is a peak period for visitors to the area, in particular the dam itself, so we will seek to minimise any impacts on the community,” Mr Evans said.

“We thank the community for its understanding and patience while we undertake this important work.”

Pumped hydro stores energy by using two reservoirs at different elevations, circulating and reusing the same water.

Its ability to store significant amounts of energy would allow more renewable solar and wind power to enter the market in Queensland. 

For pumped hydro at Borumba, a new dam would be required upstream of the existing Borumba Dam to create the upper reservoir and be filled from future rain events. 

Headrace and tailrace tunnels, and an underground power station would link the two dams to enable water to be pumped from the lower reservoir to the upper reservoir, and for water released from the upper reservoir to drive turbines to generate renewable electricity.