Jemalong solar farm commences construction in "step change" for Genex | RenewEconomy

Jemalong solar farm commences construction in “step change” for Genex

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Genex begins construction of 50MW Jemalong solar project in western NSW, and expects no ill-effects from Covid-19.

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Kidston Solar Farm. Photo Credit: Genex
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Genex Power has confirmed that construction works are underway at the 50MW Jemalong Solar Project in NSW, and the company expects there will be  minimal impact due to Covid-19.

In an update released to the ASX on Tuesday, following its landmark contract deal for the Kidston pumped hydro project on Monday, Genex said that it was working with its construction contractor (Beon) and had confirmed with key equipment suppliers that the delivery of key components were for the most part unaffected by the wider disruption caused by Covid-19.

Once operational, the 50MW Jemalong Solar Project, near Forbes in western NSW, is expected to generate up to 128,700MWh of electricity annually, and will represent a “step change” to Genex revenues.

Genex currently operates only the 50MW Kidston solar project in Queensland, which the company completed in late 2018 and is sold under a long-term power purchase agreement with the Queensland government.

The company said that “while the sun is shining in Queensland” the Kidston solar project is expected to continue generating electricity and revenues.

As has been the case across the clean energy sector, Genex said it has implemented a range of measures to protect staff from the spread of Covid-19, including implementing a work-from-home policy for office staff, and restricting visitors to Genex sites, to protect on-site workers.

“As the Covid-19 situation is rapidly unfolding both domestically and internationally, Genex has implemented measures to ensure the safety of all staff and personnel at a corporate level, and at out project sites. The team continues to work collaboratively to deliver on its outcomes for CY2020 and beyond,” Harding added.

The company did however say that it was monitoring ongoing developments in markets, as well as changes to government policies regarding the engagement of its workforce.

Earlier in the week, Genex confirmed that it had secured a long-term power purchase agreement for the Kidston pumped hydro storage project, to sell power to EnergyAustralia.

The 250MW/2,000MWh pumped hydro project will be the first such project completed in Australia in nearly four decades and will repurpose disused mining pits from the former Kidston gold mine.

Genex was forced to renegotiate the offtake agreement with EnergyAustralia after the retailer’s parent company, CLP Holdings backed out of an earlier agreement to purchase power from the pumped hydro project for a period of 30-years. Instead, the power purchase agreement will last 10-years with the option of future extensions.

“Genex has developed a diversified portfolio of renewable energy assets in Australia. The binding agreement with EnergyAustralia for the Kidston Hydro Project is a step change for the company,” Genex CEO James Harding said.

“The agreement provides clarity on the outlook for the development of our flagship project, which has an economic life of over 80 years. Meanwhile, the other assets in our portfolio continue to advance.”

“Kidston Stage 1 provides a stable revenue stream and commissioning of Jemalong Solar Project, expected in Q4 CY2020, will provide a step change in the revenue base of the company,” Harding added.

Co-located with the Kidston solar project, Genex is set to complete one of Australia’s first integrated large-scale solar and storage projects, demonstrating the potential of dispatchable renewable energy supplies.

The Kidston projects have received investment from the federal government, via the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) as well as funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

Genex acquired the development rights to the Jemalong solar project from Vast Solar in 2018 and undertook a capital raise in 2019, worth almost $20 million, to secure funding for the project’s completion.

Late last year, Genex successfully refinanced both the Jemalong and Kidston solar farms through an innovative green financing deal. The deal, worth $192 million, was certified under the Climate Bonds Standard, and involved the creation of a new debt facility provided with the involvement of Westpac, Nord/LB, DZ Bank and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

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