The Kidston facility, Australia’s first large-scale project to use pumped hydro to store solar generated power, has moved forward with an announcement of immediate commencement of early works on the 250 MW Kidston Pumped Hydro Project .
In a statement to the ASX, Genex Power said the McConnell Dowell/John Holland joint venture will commence works to accelerate the project development ahead of financial close which remains on track for H1 2019.
The early works program will focus on the hydraulic design and related activity for the hydro turbines, and will be followed by preliminary electrical design works and other project preparation activities.
The project, which will be located at a remote site that was once Australia’s largest gold mine, will use the existing pits at the location to provide around eight hours of storage for solar generated power.
The Kidston renewable energy hub is comprised of the operating 50 MW Stage 1 solar project, the Stage 2 projects – the 250 MW pumped storage hydro project and the multi-staged integrated solar project of up to 270 MW under development and Stage 3 – the Kidston Wind Project of up to 150 MW if proven feasible.
After the Stage 1 solar farm was switched on in 2017, the Kidston renewable energy received a development approval for 270 MW of solar last April.
In September, Genex secured a development approval for the pumped storage component, noting at the time that the project remains on track to commence construction in 2019 and generation from 2022.
This was followed by a deal with EnergyAustralia, under which the electricity retailer will provide equity financing for the construction of the jointly owned Kidston Pumped Hydro Project and have exclusive rights to negotiate an off-take agreement.
As for the next step, Genex is looking to secure financing for the 270 MW solar farm, which it expects to achieve once financing for the pumped storage project is finalized.
In terms of financing, Genex Power has secured a concessional debt funding of $516 million from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility – subject to a number of conditions and customary terms – for the second stage of its Kidston power facility, comprising the 270 MW solar PV plant and the 250 MW of pumped storage hydro project.
Previously, the Kidston energy hub received $8.9 million in funding from the Federal Government, through the Australian Renewable Energy Arena (ARENA), for the construction of the Stage 1 solar project, and up to $9 million in funding to support the development of Stage 2 Solar and Stage 2 Hydro.
“Embarking on this early works program with the MDJH-JV is a significant milestone for Genex as work gets underway on our biggest project which has been in planning for a number of years,” Genex CEO James Harding said.
“Genex continues to work closely with Powerlink, the Queensland State Government, NAIF, ARENA, EnergyAustralia and other key stakeholders to finalise the remaining activities ahead of the financial close milestone,” Harding said.
“The Kidston Pumped Hydro Project will play a vital role in facilitating and supporting the further penetration of renewable energy in the National Electricity Market.”
On the back of a considerable inflow of revenues from its 50 MW Kidston Solar Project, Genex Power decided to expand it solar portfolio with a purchase of the 50 MW Jemelong solar project in New South Wales, which sits alongside an operational 1.1 MW concentrated solar thermal power pilot plant.