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Kidston solar + pumped hydro project wins another $5m from ARENA

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Genex Power’s world-leading solar and pumped hydro project in northern Queensland looks set to reach financial close in 2018, after receiving another $5 million in grant funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency on Friday.

KidstonSolarPumpedHydro

The funding comes as Genex prepares to begin work on Kidston Stage Two (K2), which will combine a 250MW pumped hydroelectricity storage facility and 270MW solar PV plant, that will generate up to 783GWh of renewable energy a year.

The landmark project – which is being developed at the site of a disused gold mine, 270km north-west of Townsville – aims to use the solar PV and pumped hydro energy storage to create a reliable, dispatchable and affordable energy generator that is entirely renewable; not just to dispatch power, but also to provide valuable ancillary services to the grid.

During peak power demand periods water will be released from the upper to the lower reservoir, passing through reversible turbines. During off peak periods and when sun is abundant, water will be pumped back from the lower reservoir to the upper reservoir using electricity primarily from the solar farm.

Genex managing director Michael Addison said the new funding from ARENA would strengthen the ASX listed company’s financial position as it works to reach financial close on K2 by mid-2018.

ARENA has supported the project since its inception, providing grants of $4 million towards technical feasibility studies, and $8.9 million towards the Kidston Stage One solar PV project as part of its $92 million large scale solar PV competitive round.

“Stage Two of the Kidston hydro and solar project is an important step in achieving a secure and reliable grid and increasing the value delivered by renewable energy,” said ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht in a statement on Friday.

“Kidston will be the only grid connected solar project located in Australia’s solar red zone, providing consistent strong sun throughout the year, and combining it with pumped hydro will provide Queensland access to an entirely renewable flexible energy option,” he said.

Last month, the company revealed that new studies had shown the hydro component of the project would be able to provide energy storage capacity of 2000MWh, rather than the previously estimated 1,500MWh, with optimal use of the site’s existing infrastructure and design of its turbine technology.

“The continued support from ARENA is testament to the innovative nature of the project, and the growing importance of large-scale energy storage in the context of the increasing penetration of renewable energy in the National Electricity Market,” Addison said.

“It also represents a vote of confidence in the pathway Genex has outlined to financial close.”  

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  • Joe

    And The COALition want to keep banging on about building new Coalers in QLD. I think that game is now over.

    • RobertO

      Hi Joe, I had someone tell me that this will never happen, it a transfer of money to the company and because of the costs and their statement “I know PHES construction costs and it will not work!” I told the person “Go tell the company, I do not need to know what you think!”
      I look forward to the day they go live and prove the naysayers wrong.
      Timeshifing the solar to peak works wonders to the profits, and its a daily shift for 10-20-30 or more years

      • Eb

        The pumped hydro costs were initially forecast to be $282 million (https://arena.gov.au/projects/kidston-pumped-storage-project/) excluding the Qld Govt’s >$150 million (https://www.dews.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/1253541/Fact-sheet-Powering-North-Queensland-Plan.pdf) to upgrade the transmission line. I guess the costs have risen since this initial estimate due to the decision to now build a turkey nest dam. My very rough estimate of annual income (under current market rules & projected variable RE growth rates) indicates that the pumped hydro component of this project will need many decades of operation to pay back its initial capital costs. Thus, like Snowy 2.0, it is unlikely to to reach financial close and commence construction anytime soon. Anyone seen or undertaken detailed forecasts of the annual income from the pumped hydro component of this project?

        • RobertO

          Hi All, If you have solar for sale and you buy it back to use it to pump your hydro up hill do you get the LGC? They sell PV get the LGC and then they buy it back to resell more LGC when they use the hydro. Is that how they pay for the system?

  • Solar Sparky

    Now wouldn’t it make sense to install the 270kW of PV on top of one or both resevoir’s using floating mount technology. Reduce evaporation. Keep panels cool. Don’t use up any more land area.

    • Pixilico

      Spot on, buddy!

    • Mal Goon Chew

      Could be something to do with cyclones. High winds cause lots of wave action. Photos on their website show them pile driving the PV panel supports 3 or 4 metres into the ground.

  • Roger Franklin

    Sounds like a wonderful project for the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility to fund. Clearly this is an infrastructure project and one that has a very high potential to offer a revenue stream over a 20-30+ year period that is capable of repaying the government plus more. I guess it’s success depends largely on the results of the Queensland Election on Nov 25th.

    Seems to make sense to make use of existing holes in the ground where possible, rather than making new holes!!! Would result in jobs for these communities for the construction and ongoing maintenance phases of the project too – and most likely would result in further similar projects being undertaken.