”We are really excited to join forces with BE Power at the forefront of the next wave of Australian pumped hydro storage.Pascal RadueCEO GE Renewable Energy Hydro Solutions
Situated beside Lake Cressbrook, roughly 50km north-east of Toowoomba, the Big-T renewable energy project stands as a robust venture. It’s expected to generate 400MW with a storage capacity of 10 hours, boasting high electrical efficiency. It’s designed to support a continuous generation of 4,000MWh in a single operating cycle.
With funding of $1.65 billion, the project promises substantial social and economic rewards for the Toowoomba, Somerset regions, and the wider Queensland area. It represents a promising source of local investment and employment opportunities, expected to create between 250-500 jobs during its construction phase and sustain between 30+ jobs during its operational period.
The Big-T project will serve as a catalyst for the development of new wind and solar projects within the Southern Renewable Energy Zone. The final investment decision (FID) is projected for Q2 2024, with the aim to commence commercial operations by 2028.
COMMUNITY INFORMATION SESSIONS
We are currently conducting community information sessions around the BIG T Project. We’re dedicated to creating these sessions to be as enlightening, engaging, and inclusive as possible. The primary focus of these sessions is to increase awareness of the project, answer the key questions and receive feedback from the community.
We understand that such large-scale changes can be daunting, and we are committed to ensuring you are well-informed and your concerns are addressed. We are diligently planning a series of informative sessions where you can gain insights, interact, and raise your questions about these forthcoming projects.
Updates regarding the scheduling of these sessions, including dates, times, and associated information, will be promptly shared on our website as soon as they are finalized. We urge you to frequently visit our site for the latest updates and opportunities to participate.
Our mission is to foster a well-informed community that can actively participate in shaping its future. Your participation in these sessions is instrumental in ensuring that we collectively navigate these changes. We greatly appreciate your continued interest and participation and look forward to your attendance at our forthcoming sessions. Thank you for being an integral part of our community.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The Big-T Pumped Hydro Energy Storage (PHES) Project is a proposed renewable energy project located at Lake Cressbrook, approximately 45km north-east of Toowoomba.
The Project has a planned generating capacity of 400MW (megawatts) of hydroelectricity, with 10 hours (which is 4GWh) of storage.
The Project also includes a first of its kind co-located 200MW/1 hour Battery Energy Storage System (BESS).
PHES projects are large-scale water batteries that store energy. PHES systems pump water uphill to an elevated reservoir when electricity demand is low, usually in off-peak periods. When electricity demand is high, water is released from the upper reservoir to power a turbine to generate renewable electricity.
Closed loop PHES systems such as the Big-T Project do not consume water, they operate by recirculating water between the lower and upper reservoirs.
The Project was declared a Coordinated Project by the Coordinator-General in September 2022 under the State Development and Public Works Organisation Act 1971.
Primary consultation has occurred with Toowoomba Regional Council as Lake Cressbrook’s primary landowner, and the Project has progressed to Stage 3 of Council’s Invitation to Tender (ITT) process for development of commercial terms.
A reference design is underway, accompanied by a further feasibility assessment. We anticipate a final investment decision by Q2 2024. Construction of the project is set to begin in 2024 and is projected to conclude by 2028, with commercial operations launching the same year.
An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is being prepared for lodgement, and stakeholder and community consultation and engagement activities have commenced. The draft EIS will be publicly notified and the public (including government agencies) will have an opportunity to have their say on the project and its impacts (positive and negative).
Engagement with representatives of the Western Wakka Wakka community has occurred throughout the project development process. An Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Due Diligence Assessment Study has been completed, and a Cultural Heritage Management Plan (CHMP) has also been completed and is in place.
The Big-T Project has a funded cost of over $1.65 billion and will bring significant social and economic benefits to the Toowoomba and Somerset regions such as:
- Potential savings for QLD power customers of up to $1.2 billion (based on 2022 electricity trading data).
- Commitment to utilizing up to 70% local Australian content.
- Creation of 250-500 construction jobs and 30+ permanent operational roles.
- Local employment and investment boost in the Toowoomba and Somerset Regional Council areas.
- Economic uplift for local businesses through supply chain and procurement opportunities.
- Infrastructure enhancements, including local utilities and road upgrades.
- Strengthened economic support for local entities, boosting patronage for sports, recreation, and cultural clubs.
- Positive branding of the city, aiding in regional growth.
- Contribution to achieving the Queensland Renewable Energy Target
A variety of initiatives to reduce environmental impact, protect native flora, fauna and local vegetation, reduce visual impact, and negate bush fire risk have been introduced, including relocation of the upper reservoir to lower ecological value land, and the power plant and associated infrastructure to be underground.
In accordance with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and Queensland Biodiversity Offset Policy guidelines, the project proposes to implement an associated biodiversity offset project, meaning it will create replacement habitat of three to five times the area impacted by the project.
Maintaining the integrity of Lake Cressbrook reservoir infrastructure and the safety in design of project infrastructure is critically important; the Project is designed fit-for-purpose to industry best practice and to all Australian standards for a minimum engineering life of 80+ years.
The project will involve an upper reservoir being constructed on privately owned land, with the lower reservoir using Lake Cressbrook.
The electricity connection involves construction of buried electrical cables from the project’s underground power station to Powerlink’s Tarong to Middle Ridge transmission line. The electricity connection is to be partly built under the existing road easement of Sebastapool and Three Mile Roads.
Water usage will adhere to a commercial bulk water agreement to be established with TRC.
We are currently conducting an assessment to determine the baseline water quality in Lake Cressbrook. Should the water quality be affected, either during construction or operations, the project commits to compensating TRC for any extra water treatment costs.
The operational levels (both upper and lower) proposed by TRC for the power plant will be incorporated into the relevant agreements.
The Big-T Project is located in the Queensland Government’s Southern Renewable Energy Zone (QSREZ), identified by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) in its 2022 Integrated System Plan (ISP) as one of the the preferred location for future renewable development for southern Queensland.
The Project is one of the lowest-cost PHES opportunities available in Australia and has the capacity to power the equivalent of 288,000 homes.
The Project will connect to the National Electricity Market (NEM) through a 15km high voltage transmission line.
Once operational the Project will be an enabler of new renewable energy projects (wind and solar) of 3,000–5,000MW within the QSREZ, and will assist the Queensland Government to achieve its target of 50% renewables by 2030.
- BE Power is the principal project originator and developer who have partnered with GE Renewable Energy to develop, construct, and operate the project. BE Power develops, finances and operates renewable energy power plants and also undertakes electricity trading and retailing activities.
- GE Renewable Energy is the co-development partner who will develop, construct, and operate the project. GE Renewable Energy is a $15 billion business with one of the broadest portfolios in the renewable energy industry including onshore and offshore wind, blades, hydro, storage, utility-scale solar, grid solutions, hybrid renewables, and digital services offerings.
- Tractebel/Lomabardi are the reference design and EPC documentation contractors. Lombardi and Tractebel are engaged internationally with major pumped hydro schemes and within Australia on the Snowy 2.0 Project.
- Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC) is Lake Cressbrook’s primary landowner. The project is a submission as part of TRC’s New Energy Generation Project Invitation to Tender (ITT) process, which has progressed to Stage 3 for development of commercial terms.
The Project will create approximately 250-500 jobs during the construction phase, and approximately 15-30 ongoing jobs during operation. To accommodate the construction workforce, a temporary accommodation camp is proposed to be established at 7572 New England Highway Crows Nest, with access from Hirning Street (the existing caravan park access road) and approximately 900 metres from the entrance to the Project access road via Albert Street, off the New England Highway.
Bordering the Crows Nest Tourist and Caravan Park, the proposed temporary accommodation camp will feature:
- Temporary self-contained camp accommodation facilities for up to 200 workers
- Access to power and water from existing established services
- Onsite parking
- Septic grey water waste system.
Project hotline: 1800 853 280