Plans to convert an abandoned Queensland goldmine into one of Australia’s largest hydro energy storage plants took a step forward on Monday, with the announcement that Hydro Tasmania offshoot, Entura, had been appointed to deliver a feasibility study for the project.
The $280 million, 330MW Kidston Pumped Storage Hydro Electricity Project, proposes to transform the disused Kidston gold mine in northern Queensland into a large-scale hydroelectric power plant, to supply the state during periods of peak demand.
Genex Power, the company behind the project, launched an initial public offer in June ahead of listing on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in July, in the hope of raising around $A8 million – some of which was to go towards the feasibility study.
There are currently only three pumped storage hydro schemes in Australia. If the Kidston project is successfully completed, it will be the third largest hydroelectric energy storage project in Australia, selling energy directly into Australia’s National Electricity Market during times of peak demand.
The abandoned mine site – situated some 270km north-west of Townsville – contains two large adjacent pits with the potential to act as the upper and lower reservoirs required for pumped storage hydropower generation.
“Entura is a world leader in the planning, design and construction of hydro power stations and we are pleased to have engaged them to manage the bankable feasibility study process,” said Genex managing director Michael Addison.
“Initial engagements between Genex and Entura have been very positive and we look forward to working with the Entura team, which has already indicated scope for improvements on the initial project design. The Genex Board will work closely with Entura to deliver a bankable feasibility study on budget and is on track to complete the work by 30 June 2016.”
Entura will partner with leading Chinese power and design consultants HYDROCHINA in the feasibility phase of the project. In November 2014 the two firms signed a Memorandum of Understanding to cooperate on the development of opportunities in the energy and water sectors.
Entura’s Managing Director Tammy Chu said: “As part of Hydro Tasmania, Entura brings a utility-owner perspective, deep local experience, regulatory knowledge and optimisation capability to the Kidston Pumped Storage project, while HYDROCHINA brings a wealth of specialist experience in the development and construction of pumped storage hydro stations.
“We look forward to working with Genex Power’s team and our partners to study how best to deliver a practical and commercially sound solution that will help bring the Kidston Pumped Storage project to life.”
In addition to the feasibility study, Entura will oversee subcontracted investigations, including geotechnical investigations and a bathymetric survey. The firm will also manage environmental and planning approvals for the project site, including specialist reports and community consultation.
In June, Entura won a three-year contract to help the Cook Islands make the transition from diesel power to renewable energy – developing preliminary designs for remote area power systems in six islands – as part of the South Pacific archipelago’s goal to use 100 per cent renewables on all of its 15 islands by 2020.