Pioneer-Burdekin Pumped Hydro Progress Powers On

Published Thursday, 08 June, 2023 at 04:34 PM

Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen and Minister for Public Works and Procurement
The Honourable Mick de Brenni

  • Local family business, Twin Hills Engineering and Drilling, awarded first geotech drilling contract for Pioneer-Burdekin project.
  • Queensland-based joint venture with strong Mackay presence, Water2Wire, wins Front End Engineering Design contract.
  • Proposed to be delivered in two stages by 2035, Pioneer-Burdekin Pumped Hydro Project would be the largest Pumped Hydro scheme in the world.
  • Project will support more than 3,000 jobs during construction, as part of the $62 billion Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan.

A ‘true blue’ local family business from the Mackay region has been awarded one of the first, and most important contracts, on the Palaszczuk Government’s Pioneer-Burdekin pumped hydro energy storage project.

Twin Hills Engineering and Drilling was today announced as the successful tender for the six-month geotechnical shallow drilling program, which will be used to inform the project design and will be a fundamental part of the development of this nation-building project.

A Queensland-based joint venture with a strong presence in Mackay, Water2Wire was also announced as the successful proponent for the project’s Front-End Engineering and Design (FEED), as part of the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan.

Supporting more than 3,000 jobs during the peak of construction, the proposed scheme is expected to provide the world’s biggest pumped hydro energy storage with 5GW of clean, reliable, and affordable power supply and storage to Queenslanders over a 24-hour period.

Quotes attributable to the Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert:

“This is an exciting major project for the region that will mean business opportunities for local companies and thousands of jobs for locals - whether it’s electricians and technicians, suppliers of building materials, or drillers and engineers like these two contracts.

“Pumped hydro energy storage and clean energy will provide another lane on Mackay’s industrial superhighway with thousands of locals just like Stephen and Sharon who stand to benefit from it.”

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen, Mick de Brenni:

“The Pioneer-Burdekin Pumped Hydro Project is the cornerstone of the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan, and will be the largest pumped hydro scheme in the world.

“This mega pumped hydro project will act like a giant battery, and when connected to our Queensland SuperGrid, will underpin the reliability of our publicly owned grid by storing the energy generated by our renewable energy zones.

“The project is poised to offer hundreds of supply chain opportunities, and with application of the Palaszczuk Governments’ signature Buy Queensland Procurement Policy, local businesses like Twin Hills and Water2Wire will be the preferred project partners.”

“It’s regions like Mackay that are at the centre of this Queensland’s renewable energy transformation – which will unleash new industrial jobs in hydrogen, renewables, manufacturing, and critical minerals.”

Quotes attributed to Kieran Cusack, CEO, Queensland Hydro:

"With Water2Wire's recent work on high-profile projects like Borumba and Kidston and their collective expertise in delivering pumped hydro projects around the world they will be a great asset to this project. We are looking forward to working with them on this world-class project.

"We’re also delighted to be working with a local family business employing local workers has been awarded the first geotech drilling contract for Queensland Hydro’s Pioneer-Burdekin project. 

Quotes attributable to Stephen Burt, Managing Director Twin Hills Engineering & Drilling

"After seeing so many contracts for private project in the region go to southern drilling firms in Sydney and Melbourne, I’m delighted to be part of the Pioneer-Burdekin project, because our program will be performed by local workers with local families supporting the local community.

"It’s great to finally get the chance to work on a local project and to prove that Mackay companies can match it on the national stage – we’re over the moon about working with Queensland Hydro.”

Quotes attributable to Craig Berry, Director – Water2Wire Joint Venture and GHD Project Director:

"Water2Wire is proud to partner with Queensland Hydro and are excited to have the opportunity to play an important role in helping to shape the energy future for Queensland, through a project that is a cornerstone of the landmark Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan.

"With Water2Wire's expertise and Queensland Hydro's leadership, we are confident that this project will succeed, providing jobs and contributing significantly to the Queensland economy.”

Pioneer-Burdekin Pumped Hydro Explainer:

Pumped Hydro Energy Storage is a proven technology that is a foundational investment in Queensland’s SuperGrid to provide 24/7 clean and reliable power.

The Pioneer-Burdekin project is proposed to generate 5000MW for 24 hours, equivalent to around half of the entire state’s peak usage.

Pumped hydro acts like a giant water battery:

  • it uses electricity from the grid or nearby renewables to pump water from a lower reservoir into an upper reservoir when energy prices are low;
  • when energy is needed, water is released from the upper reservoir into the lower reservoir, generating energy as it passes through a turbine; and
  • hydroelectricity can be generated almost immediately and at any time, so power can be fed into the grid when it is needed.

Further information on successful tenders:

Stephen Burt, who employs over 100 local staff across the two businesses he runs with wife Sharon, is celebrating the Geotech contract success of the back of the 10-year milestone of their Twin Hills Engineering and Drilling business located at Alligator Creek, 20 minutes south of Mackay.

Water2Wire is a joint venture partnership of three companies, GHD, Mott MacDonald and Stantec, who bring together their professional engineering, hydropower expertise and capability to determine the technical specifications, schedule, and cost parameters for the project.

The Water2Wire team brings extensive experience delivering pumped hydro projects such as Queensland Hydro’s Borumba pumped hydro project (FEED design for proposed new Borumba Dam), the QMCA (Queensland Major Contractors Association) award-winning 250MW Kidston PHES, the 1,500MW Lake Onslow PHES (New Zealand), and the 3,000MW Bath County PHES (UK).


Media contact – Elise Williams 0482 503 675