Genex seeks “holy grail of renewables” – wind, solar, pumped hydro

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Genex looks to add 150MW of wind to its solar and pumped hydro project, creating the “holy grail” of a major renewable energy project with reliable, dispatchable power – and a lot cheaper than coal.

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Genex Power says it is looking to add a 150MW wind project to its huge solar plus pumped hydro Kidston project in north Queensland, in a move it says would be world-leading and reach the renewables “holy grail” of 24/7 dispatchable power.

The project would be a world-first combination of the three technologies at such scale, and would potentially combine 320MW of solar, 250MW of pumped hydro and 10 hours storage, and the 150MW of wind capacity.

Together, with the Kennedy Energy Hub just 80kms to the south – which is looking to combine wind, solar and battery storage, and potentially a mega installation of 1200MW – it means that Queensland could be host of the world’s two leading renewables plus storage projects.

It is also a powerful argument about how renewables will lead the future of the country’s energy grid, and makes a nonsense of the push by Coalition MPs, including several who represent the local area, for a new coal power plant.

“We’re really exited about it – it is the opportunity to provide  reliable dispatchable renewables, all integrated and coming together beautifully,”  Genex director Simon Kidston told RenewEconomy.

Kidston says the wind would be stronger at night and compliment the output of the solar farm. The company published this anticipated generation profile, combining the wind (green line), solar (yellow) and pumped hydro (blue) and total output (black line)

“If there is a lull, we can tap into the pumped hydro and get almost instantaneous output and maintain a smooth generation profile,” Kidston said.

Kidston would not be drawn on costs, but said the combined project would deliver reliable, dispatchable power at a significant discount to a new coal fired power station, which some locals are pushing for in the area.

“It has always been  our strategy to achieve this holy grail, to do away with the intermittency and make it dispatchable,” he said. “We think it will be significantly cheaper than new coal.”

This view is shared by Windlab, which says its own combination of wind, solar and storage will be significantly cheaper than coal. Its first stage of 43.5MW of wind capacity, 15MW of solar PV capacity and a 2MW Lithium ion battery storage is already under construction.

Figure 2: The almost “baseload” impact of wind & pv at Kennedy stage 1. Source: Company

Windlab’s estimated profile of wind and solar is similar to that of Genex (see graph above). It believes it will require a lot less storage, however.

Other projects to combine wind, solar and storage are also taking shape: Tilt is adding solar and storage to its Snowtown wind project in South Australia, CWP is looking at adding solar and storage to its Sapphire wind project in NSW, and DP Energy and SIMEC ZEN have big plans for renewables and storage around Port Augusta and Whyalla.

Kidston says that Genex had long been aware of the strong wind resources in the region. Apart from Windlab’s Kennedy project, Infigen Energy’s Forsayth wind project is also nearby and “the locals say the wind is strong enough to blow a dog off a chain.”

The wind farm will be located on a neighbouring escarpment some 350m above the surrounding topography, and about 40 turbines will stretch out for a distant of 21kms.

Genex announced earlier on Thursday that it has has signed a heads of agreement with two local landholders that gives it the option to develop the new wind farm project, which would add another stage to the company’s Kidston Renewable Energy hub.

The wind site is just 10kms away from the solar and pumped hydro storage facility, which will be located in the old Kidston gold mine.

“This is a world first – development of integrated solar, wind and pumped storage hydro technology – potentially allowing Genex to provide firm renewable clean energy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” it says.

Managing director Michael Addison said the addition of wind would give the project diversity across three renewable energy sources at the one site.

“We view K3-Wind as the first of a number of diversified future projects that will selectively expand our corporate portfolio, and place Genex as one of the key renewable energy and energy storage developers in Australia.”

The company has nearly completed the first stage 50MW solar farm, and has gained planning approval for the second stage solar farm. It is also seeking finance for that and the pumped hydro component of the project.

Genex will commence a detailed feasibility study into the wind component – which may take up to 18 months. It will look at the wind resource as well as transmission requirements, capital and operating costs and firming up of anticipated capacity factors.

 

 

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12 Comments
  1. RobertO 6 months ago

    Hi All, I sure that some on the Monash Group will tell their constituents that the wind won’t blow, that the sun won’t shine, that the water will evaporate and the final straw is the battery will fail, so renewable energy is neither reliable nor affordable to quote “barrrrrrrrny dipstick”, We have to have reliable and affordable new coal (how else can we have our $100 lamb roast).

    • Joe 6 months ago

      Is anyone able to find out what the ‘Lamb Roast’ price actually was under Labor’s ETS. We need to shove it don’t Bananabee’s throat, jam it in deep, to shut him up for good.

      • RobertO 5 months ago

        Hi Joe, even under the current prices (full absolute top price) it about $6.00 Even the leg of Lamb costs more, but still a long way from the “$100 Lamb Roast” remark.

        • Joe 5 months ago

          Nicely spotted…. thanks…now where’s the Bananabee so we can feed him the numbers

    • Hettie 6 months ago

      Yep. Every time we think those idiots have reached peak stupid, they go up several more notches.

  2. Cooma Doug 6 months ago

    There will be a depth of value in these assets yet to be realised. The people in the industry know but the political uncertainty makes it hard to be sure. This lot will be in synergy with load side assets that will greatly increase the market value of the wind and solar. These assets have a flexability that opens doors that are closed on coal and gas.

  3. Andrew Scott 6 months ago

    Giles,

    The good news keeps coming!
    Figure 1 tells all about the multifaceted generating capability – another very promising development.
    To complete the picture and enhance our understanding,
    is there any chance of adding a line that profiles the energy demands throughout the day to recharge the pumped storage?

    • etmax 6 months ago

      Energy recovery on pumped hydro is around 50-60%. Viability is affected very heavily by the cost of building a dam plus pumps etc. BTW batteries have 85 to 98% recovery.

      • RobertO 6 months ago

        Hi Etmax Off to the boardroom with you. Ask if the board will give you $10, 000 to save $20,000 per annum. 99.9% of the time it will be No!
        Ask the board for $10,000 to make a new widget that you can sell for $5,000 a year and you will get it, no questions asked today. When you start production the GM or CEO may ask “Can we improve this widget?” or can we make it more efficient or more efficiently. So now go look at the plans and then see if you can keep up.

      • Hettie 6 months ago

        That’s an issue if you are using fossil fuels to do the pumping. Not so much if you are mopping up excess midday solar power or overnight wind, which cot nothing in fuel. And even less of an issue if you are using abandoned mines where two well placed craters , one 100 or so metres higher than the other, are ready and waiting. Pipes to pump up and also carry the down flow. 22,000 such sites have been identified around Australia.
        50% energy return? As Joh would say, “Don’t you worry about that.”

        • etmax 6 months ago

          Oh I’m with you on that. I wasn’t advocating fossil pumping storage, in fact if you consider what I wrote about efficiency of pumped hydro, why would anyone in their right mind use fossil fuels to pump hydro at a 40% loss when the fossil fuel is there at any time of day. The fossil fuel is in fact stored solar energy already. Really what I was getting at is that pumped hydro is 60% efficient for $x and batteries are 95% efficient for $y where x & y vary wildly depending on a number of factors. Your mine etc. concept is obviously a very low cost hydro method but if you want something the size of the snowy scheme you pay big bucks. Even a relatively small dam can be quite expensive depending on how long the dam wall needs to be. The US Hoover dam is comparatively cheap because of geology but such locations are becoming fewer and far between. In my opinion we should be spending money on large scale batteries using sodium or such. The cost per kWh is much lower than Li-Ion and the lifespan is greater too for an efficiency of around 90% so potentially cheaper than large dams at greater efficiency..

          • Hettie 6 months ago

            All true, except – batteries can do things that PHES can’t do, and PHES can provide more power for longer periods than batteries.
            We need both.
            A refrigerator isn’t better than a freezer, or vice versa. Similar, but different, and we need both.
            And it is increasingly clear that distributed resources are preferable to huge centralised ones. Not least because failure of a big unit is a much bigger problem than failure of a small one, and with power supply reliability is king, and diversity is strength.

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