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Kidston pumped hydro storage capacity to be boosted by 25%

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KidstonSolarPumpedHydro

Genex Power’s world-leading solar and pumped hydro project in northern Queensland looks set to provide 25 per cent more energy storage capacity than first thought, after an optimisation study showed the potential for the renewable energy hub to provide 8 hours of continuous generation, rather than six hours.

Genex Power’s $330 million Kidston Stage 2 Pumped Hydro Storage project – which is said to be “shovel ready” at the site of a former gold mine, where it will be co-located alongside a 270MW solar PV array – was initially slated to provide 1,500MWh of pumped hydro energy storage capacity.

But in a statement on Friday, Genex said that new studies had shown that it could provide energy storage of 2000MWh, with optimal use of the site’s existing infrastructure and design of its turbine technology.

The company said its optimisation studies, conducted with global engineering firm Mott MacDonald, had also taken into account recent shifts in Australian energy market dynamics, as well as feedback from key market players – the company is said to be close to announcing which major energy retailer will be the energy off-take partner for Kidston, with financial close set for 2018.

“It is clear that the National Electricity Market is undergoing a rapid shift from a traditional baseload dominant market to a new dynamic where dispatchability and storage of renewable energy will underpin future generation,” Genex said in a statement on Friday.

“In such a system, the role of large-scale economic energy storage becomes increasingly relevant.

“The updated design (of Kidston) will enable energy off-takers to take full advantage of the flexibility offered by the integrated project and, in doing so, allow Genex to extract maximum value from the offtake arrangements.”

The optimisation study, says Genex, found that an augmented design using the two existing gold mine pits as the upper and lower reservoirs was the optimal choice for the 250MW of installed solar capacity.GenexKidstonPumpedHydroCrossSection

This change was expected to increase upper reservoir volume from six hours to over eight hours of continuous generation, with the potential to use variable speed pump-generator turbines to provide significant operational flexibility, including the ability to “ramp up” to full generation capacity in less than 30 seconds.

The changes would also allow the pumped hydro facility to better match the generation from the co-located K2-Solar project, Genex said, as well as increasing its suitability to the ancillary service market with increased operation flexibility.

As a final bonus, the reduced excavation and civil works requirements that result from the optimisation means construction of the pumped hydro project could be reduced by up to six months, to less than three years, the company said.

“The optimisation study outcomes have been developed in response to direct feedback from potential energy partners amid the ongoing backdrop of the national debate on Energy Policy, and the importance of ensuring dispatchability of renewable energy via energy storage,” said Genex managing director Michael Addison in comments on Friday.

“The Kidston renewable energy hub is currently the most advanced, lowest cost, large-scale energy storage project in the country. Energy storage is likely to play a critical role in future energy
development and Genex is well placed to benefit from these dynamics,” he said.  

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  • Stan Hlegeris

    If the numbers are right, your headline understates the increase.

    Conventionally, if the expected storage was 1500MWh and you increase it by 500MWh, that’s an increase of 500/1500 = 33%, not 25%.

  • howardpatr

    Down the track Genex could be a major player in battery technology.

    The Genex project will have two inter-connects to the main transmission line for Queensland. At the junction of the transmissions ESS projects could be developed with non-lithium batteries like:-

    https://www.viznenergy.com/

    https://eosenergystorage.com/

    The ViZn website provides a link to a research paper on a number of non-lithium battery technologies.

  • John Casey

    Taking into account about 80% efficiency of pump storage systems to get a return of 2000 MWh the system will require a lot more than 250MW of solar to pump the water up – so where does the extra energy come from? and the economics will not add up.

    • Andy Pettingill

      think about the price for peaking power ,What is the max charged ?$maybe $1.40 KWH that adds up.

    • RobertO

      Hi John Casey, Kidston project part 1 is 50 MW solar, part 2 is 270 MW solar and 250 MW pump hydro. At 80% efficiency it will take about 8 hr to refill from empty (270 +50 )* 250*0.8 = 8 hr).At about 1 am on the wholesale market Kidston will start pumping up, about 6 am they will stop and depending on price they may start generation until about 10 am.Then they will return to pumping using there own solar (or some from the network if needed, they have say 1-3 hr storage at this time) About 4 pm storage is full and solar is now exported to network. Generation will start depending on price by 5 pm at latest so top lake is empty or almost empty by 1 am next and cycle start again. In simple money terms they will make a killing because they can bid into the wholesale market and buy on wholesale market.They are selling at high points on market and buying at low points. They will keep some morning storage for the late peak about 4 pm to 10 pm plus a bit either side of this time.

      • John Casey

        Hi RobertO – having worked on three hydro pump storage projects, I am fully aware of their construction costs and operation and unless there is a significant price differential between peak and off-peak market they are not economically viable. The current and forecast AEMO prices do not show the required differential in prices required. Note if you do the economics, open cycle gas turbines are a far better economic option for providing peak power, even with current gas prices. Gas turbines also provide far greater flexibility for following the market prices and don’t have outputs limited by the upper storage capacity.

        • RobertO

          Hi John Casey, its a bit hard to price Solar when you own it. Solar in the middle of the day is driving the price downwards, so using at 7 pm would have to be a better price
          Private company only do things for profit so tell them “They’re wrong with their finances “.
          And as for Gas, Hydro has always been quicker cold start zero to full speed in 30 seconds is what Snowy Mountains claim
          and Gas cold start is about 10 minutes to full speed.