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.
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.”
Sophie is editor of OneStepOffTheGrid.com.au and deputy editor of its sister site, RenewEconomy.com.au. Sophie has been writing about clean energy for more than a decade.