CEFC, French bank, tip $100m debt into Kidston 50MW solar farm

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Phase one of plans to turn disused Queensland gold mine into massive solar and pumped hydro storage project reaches financial close.

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Plans to turn a disused north Queensland gold mine into one of Australia’s biggest solar and storage plants have passed another key milestone, with phase one of the project – construction of a 50MW solar array – reaching financial close.kidston storage solar

Genex Power, the project’s developer, said on Tuesday it had finalised funding requirements for Kidston Phase One solar Project (KSP1), via a $100 million debt funding deal with the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Société Générale.

In addition to the debt and equity funding, Genex said it would also draw on $8.85 million of grant funding from ARENA, provided through its Large-Scale Solar Competitive Round, for project development costs.

The company also confirmed the appointment of First Solar as the solar module supplier for the first installation, with the US-based company locked in to provide 63MW, or 540,000 advanced thin-film PV modules.

Genex said that this latest development milestone meant the project was on track to start sending solar power to the grid by the end of 2017, and for its first phase to be completed by early 2018, allowing the company to turn its attention to securing funds for the 250MW Kidston Pumped Storage Hydro Project, as well as the solar phase two, which would add another 270MW.

Genex estimates that on completion, the 250MW pumped hydro storage project will support 1,500MWh of continuous power in a single 6-hour generation cycle.

The initial 50MW solar array, which is being installed on top of the former gold mine’s tailings dump, is expected to produce around 145,000MWh a year, for which Genex has entered into a 20-year Revenue Support Deed with the Queensland government, which guarantees a minimum energy floor price.

And at a time where energy security is dominating federal and state politics, ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the landmark project would contribute towards Australia’s smooth transition to renewables.

“Kidston holds the tantalising proposition of being Australia’s first large-scale solar project capable of delivering renewable energy into the grid around the clock,” Frischknecht said in comments on Tuesday.

“The… (planned) adjacent 250MW pumped hydro storage plant Genex is developing with ARENA … would allow renewable energy to be stored through the day and delivered when needed most.”

CEFC Large-Scale Solar lead Gloria Chan also focused on the project’s contribution to managing future grid stability.

“Energy storage solutions such as pumped hydro are one of the next steps in our clean energy
transition,” Chan said.

“With the cost of solar generation continuing to decline, we are committed to working with developers such as Genex to finance opportunities that can complement Australia’s growing renewable energy capacity, by adding energy storage and grid stability services.”

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9 Comments
  1. George Darroch 2 years ago

    This seems terribly far from any demand centres, being inland far-north Queensland.
    Does anyone have a list of located pumped hydro site in Australia?

    • Chris Drongers 2 years ago

      Biggish industrial demand at Townsville and population at Cairns and Townsville. If your comment re demand was correct we wouldn’t need a big coal power station at the Adagio mine.

      • john 2 years ago

        That would be the Adani, which will never come to completion unless the tax payers of Australia pay for the Railway Line and Pay to get it up and running.
        No bank in the world will finance this project because it does not have a viable end market situation.
        As to Adani building a RE power output generator it is quiet possible after all they have and are building rather huge ones in India.

    • Mal Goon Chew 2 years ago

      The site has an existing 132kv transmission line to Townsville, a city with a population of around 180,000. Not sure how much power a city this size would require?

      • Chris Drongers 2 years ago

        Sun Metals electrolytic zinc, Stuart copper, air force and army bases, tourism, all industries that run at through the expensive evening peak.

        240 MW would both take out the profitability of power spikes in Queensland and probably accelerate the exit of peaking plants as a result and be well set to buffer a much wider set of renewables in northern Qld.

        A dynamic management capable of linking up with other wind and solar renewables projects could get real $$$$ out of power smoothing, voltage and frequency control services for the region.

        Build 50 MW, keep crew on site to immediately start on 240 MW stage 2 solar and bring on a second work force to work on the pumped hydro, sharing the work camp.

        As stages of the pumped hydro are complete move them down to South Australia to build a pumped hydro to smooth their renewable power system – economists and planning engineers first, grano workers, earthworks and piping next and electrical last.

  2. john 2 years ago

    This proposal will fly as in it will over time deliver lower cost energy because the input cost of energy is Zero.
    Using Solar as the primary energy source and using the excess to pump water to store the energy as pumped hydro is going to result in a pretty low cost producer.
    I would expect they will be able to make a pretty good return on investment especially considering that Queensland has mainly Coal Generators while owned by the Government have gamed the system to make the maximum profit possible every time there is a demand cycle.
    Imagine being able to bid $10,000 a MWh as the present generators are for an hour or two.
    If the cost of producing your energy is about shall we pick a figure say $80 MWh and you only get payment of say $40 but when the demand ramps up multiply that by 250 and do it for say 20 days yes only for a few hours but the numbers add up.
    Actually I would expect their cost of production would be south of $80 MWh, perhaps more like $45.

  3. Malcolm M 2 years ago

    The 63 MW first stage would be limited by the capacity of the existing 132 kV line from Townsville. The proposed second stage includes a branch of the high-voltage high capacity Townsville-Cairns line (~275 kV), which would serve the 250 MW pumped storage and 270 MW second stage solar farm.

    • George Michaelson 2 years ago

      If you have a 132kV line, how much extra cost is there to either upgrade capacity or re-engineer off the existing wires and pylons?

      In digital comms, you try never to go back to the same trench. Fibre in the ground is re-speedable by changing the ends. But power engineering isn’t the same, so I wonder what amount of the transmission infrastructure as wires and pylons can be re-used, upgrading it?

  4. brucelee 2 years ago

    120W panels seems low?

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