2023 – Provision of Fish Passage for Sustainable Pumped Storage Hydropower Projects

Nick Thomas-Kinsella, Dr Natalie Clark

Pumped storage hydropower (PSH) presents an enormous opportunity to power our clean energy future, however it also present numerous challenges in an era where fewer dams are constructed in Australia compared with last century. Minimising impacts of PSH projects on fish is an important consideration to satisfy sustainability measures for hydropower projects, particularly for open loop PSH schemes where at least one reservoir is located on a waterway.

Fish passage decision making for PSH projects requires comprehensive assessment of the impacts of PSH development on fish species, habitat, life history and mitigation strategies to evaluate whether, bi- directional fish passage is required at PSH sites. Different forms of design solutions must be assessed to determine feasibility for site conditions and suitability for existing fish community. This paper explores current industry practice, and gaps, for provision of bi-directional fish passage for PSH projects in Australia. This paper discusses the ecological impacts on fish due to PSH site selection, PSH design and operation and the current state of practice for selection of fish passage requirements for PSH facilities. Fish passage technology options, the state of regulatory practice in Australia and decision making criteria are presented herein.

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