Genex Power has unveiled plans to build a 150MW solar PV project at the old Kidston gold mine in Queensland, siting it adjacent to a proposed 330MW pumped hydro storage project.
If it goes ahead, it will be the biggest solar plant (although it may face some competition from competing proposals), but certainly the largest combined solar and storage project in the Australia, and a world first on the latter metric.
“The development at the Kidston site will offer fringe of grid renewable energy generation and storage in far north Queensland, which is currently a net energy importer,” the listed company said in a statement.
“When developed, Genex believes the integrated scheme will open up a large part of Northern Queensland to future development, with Kidston becoming a significant centralised energy hub.”
The proposal is one of a number being proposed for north Queensland, including the unique 1200MW solar/wind hybrid proposal made by Windlab for the Kennedy energy park, and several other large scale solar projects from FRV and Solar Choice and others.
Large scale solar projects are also being boosted by tenders announced by Ergon Energy, for up to 150MW in capacity, and up to 60MW solar plus storage to be commissioned by the Queensland government. Origin Energy has also said it is keen to develop solar projects in the region.
Genex says the Kidston Solar Project will be constructed on top of the existing Kidston mine tailings storage facility at the Kidston site, which lies to the west of the former Wises mine pit to be used as part of the proposed pump storage facility.
Genex says the area has excellent solar resources and the solar plant could have an annual capacity factor of around 26-27 per cent using fixed-angle solar panels. It estimates 99 per cent of this energy being produced during higher power demand periods.
“This capacity factor is currently amongst the highest in the country. The potential to further increase the capacity factor using a solar tracking system will also be investigated as part of the project feasibility study,” managing director Michael Addison said.
“Whilst our Kidston pumped storage project remains our principal focus, the tailings storage facility at the Kidston site presents itself as an obvious and ideal solar generation platform.”
Addison said the project will likely depend on getting power purchase agreements with local utilities and other consumers, and hinted that it may also seek funding from “solar PV funding initiatives” on the market, which presumably means either the Australian Renewable Energy Agency and/or the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, or the tenders being pursued by Ergon Energy and the Queensland government.
Genex says it has commissioned AECOM to conduct a full feasibility study on the solar project, which will likely share a 275kV transmission line planned for the pumped hydro storage project.