Turning Western Sydney’s coal mining past into a clean energy future


11 April 2024

Sydney’s biggest water storage, Lake Burragorang, could soon help NSW take a big step toward achieving its transition to renewable energy and stabilise electricity supply at peak demand times.

ZEN Energy, Australia’s first 1.5°C energy company, is proposing to turn degraded coal industry land at Nattai on the escarpment above the lake into a clean energy powerhouse, delivering on-demand electricity to the equivalent of 500,000 homes and businesses.

At 1,000 megawatts (1GW), the Western Sydney Pumped Hydro project will be able to store and supply up to eight continuous hours of ‘firming’ energy, essential to stabilise the state’s electricity grid and power prices as it transitions to renewable energy generation.

Located 24km away from Warragamba Dam and drinking water treatment, the project will also be mostly underground: pumping water from Lake Burragorang through tunnels to a reservoir located on the former coal industry land. When demand is high, water is released to drive underground turbines and send renewable power into the electricity grid.

A $1 million per year Community Benefit Scheme will be created and the project will generate 1,500 jobs during construction and 80 operations jobs.

Coal was mined from the Burragorang Valley from 1930 to 1992 and the project site was used as a coal washery, operated by Burragorang Valley Coal, until 2001 and since then undergone rehabilitation. The Dunbier family, which owned the company, is now partnering with ZEN to turn the site’s fossil fuel past into being part of the state’s clean energy future.

Numerous studies, consultation and co-design with Traditional Owners, local residents and other stakeholders will now occur. If all approvals and a social licence are secured, construction could begin in 2027 and be operational by 2031.

Initial studies have established that the project would have no detrimental impact on water quality or cause any change to water levels in Lake Burragorang, including no flooding of the shoreline and surrounding natural environment. This was critical to securing WaterNSW’s approval for ZEN to progress the project.

“The vast water reserves of Lake Burragorang can supply Sydneysiders with clean drinking water and clean, renewable energy as well,” said ZEN CEO Anthony Garnaut.

“Large-scale energy storage projects like Western Sydney Pumped Hydro are key to keeping the lights on and energy prices in check in NSW as our coal-fired power stations age and retire over the next decade.”

“Western Sydney Pumped Hydro marks ZEN’s entry into renewable energy development in New South Wales. This is a key milestone for us as we grow and envision a 1.5-degree world for all.”

Importantly, consultation with key stakeholders, particularly Traditional Owner representatives, has already begun. These will continue as the project evolves and ZEN is seeking to co-design many aspects of the project with local residents.

“ZEN is committed to, and looking forward to, sharing and shaping the project design and its benefits with locals, Traditional Owners, Wollondilly Council, and other interested and important stakeholders,” Mr Garnaut said.




22 March 2024

Australia’s first 1.5°C energy company has successfully completed its debt capital raising. The outcome confirms increasing interest and confidence among high net worth and institutional investors in ZEN’s business strategy.

ZEN’s ambitious growth plans have been supported by organisations including private debt investment manager Longreach Credit Investors, ethical superannuation fund Future Group, ASX listed financial service provider Income Asset Management (IAM), leading WA property investment firm Hesperia, Samuel Terry Asset Management and impact investors.

ZEN closed Tranche A of the capital program at $54M in September 2023. The successful conclusion of the Tranche B capital raising closed the overall program at $160M. This comes just after ZEN’s announcement that it has reached financial close on its 100% owned energy storage asset, a 111-megawatt, 291 megawatt-hour battery located at Templers, 60km north of Adelaide.

A third of the funds raised were from existing investors, shareholders, and employees, demonstrating the depth of support for ZEN’s business model.

Investor confidence in ZEN enables the business to continue to pursue its ambitious growth plans, which centre around enabling large energy users to reduce their carbon footprint in an efficient manner.

Quotes attributable to ZEN’s CEO, Anthony Garnaut:
“We welcome the latest group of institutional and impact investors, including Longreach and Future Group, into ZEN’s ecosystem of partners with aligned sustainability goals.

“Meeting our capital raising goal means we can continue to scale our business model, including by taking the next step in building out our portfolio of renewable energy and storage assets.

“With this injection of capital, ZEN will also be able to scale our existing and attract new sustainability driven customers, accelerating their journey to the zero carbon future.”

Quotes attributable to Longreach Credit Investors Chief Commercial Officer, Alex Nisbet: “Longreach Credit Investors is pleased to have supported ZEN in this debt raising. ZEN is well positioned to be a key player in driving the renewable energy transition in Australia and is another example of the high-quality Australian businesses and management teams that we seek to partner with.”

Quotes attributable to Future Group Executive Director Investments, Sharon Davis:
“Future Group injected $30M of capital into ZEN Energy, enabling the business to retain 100 per cent ownership of its first major asset, the 291-megawatt-hour Templers Battery in regional South Australia.

“Using superannuation’s $3.4 trillion can unlock climate solutions and investments. Zen Energy’s ESG-driven business reflects the values of Future Group’s, leading the investment movement to advocate for a future worth retiring into.”

Quotes attributable to Income Asset Management (IAM) Executive Director – Debt Capital, Tim Smith:
“IAM is a proud supporter of ZEN’s ambitious renewable energy strategy and have been delighted to be a joint lead manager on this transaction. We believe it is a significant milestone in the context of Australia’s rapidly evolving private credit market. This transaction is a testament to the ZEN management team and a large step toward achieving its long-term aspiration of becoming an investment grade issuer.”

For further information please contact Paul Sheridan 0410 516 656 paul.sheridan@zenenergy.com.au



ZEN stands for Zero Emissions Now. ZEN is accelerating Australia’s path to becoming a renewable energy Superpower and is Australia’s first electricity retailer to have a near-term science-based emissions reduction target in line with limiting global warming by 1.5°C. In the 5 years since we obtained our electricity retail license, ZEN has brought together a community of sustainability-driven customers (governments, businesses, industries, and residents), renewable energy suppliers and capital partners. Some of our key customers include the South Australian Government, CSIRO’s sites in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory and the Southern Sydney Regional Organisation o