Kidston transmission line funding paves the way for more solar and wind

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The Kidston facility, Australia’s first large-scale project to use pumped hydro to store solar generated power, has made a major step forward with the Queensland government’s pledge to finance the construction of a transmission line, which will connect the renewable energy hub with the main grid.

The Palaszczuk government will allocate up to $132 million for the construction of the 186 km transmission line from Kidston to Mount Fox near Ingham, which will be built owned and operated by state-owned transmission operator Powerlink. While linking the hinterland to the National Electricity Market, the new line will pave the way for additional stages for the clean energy hub, including up to 270 MW of additional solar and up to 150 MW of wind.

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.

By investing in the transmission infrastructure, the Government aims to support the development of a clean energy hub in the North, providing jobs, investment and energy security.

“The Genex project itself will have a peak construction workforce of about 500 people per annum for the first two years, 250 in the final year and 30 permanent operational jobs,” Energy Minister Anthony Lynham said. “And connecting 250MW of pumped hydro capacity will help make the North Queensland electricity network more reliable.”

In a statement to the ASX, Genex said the government funding package was a “key external” boost to complete financing and commence construction of the Kidston Pumped Storage Hydro Project Transmission Line.

According to Genex CEO James Harding, the Queensland government funding package complemented the project loan extended by the Federal Government’s the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF). Genex landed the $610 million concessional loan for the for the 250 MW/2000 MWh pumped hydro storage facility in June.

“We would like to thank the Queensland government for their support and look forward to continuing to work together over the coming weeks to finalise arrangements for this important increment to a stable electricity network in North Queensland, which will secure power supply to local communities and unlock further clean energy generation in the region,” he said.

The funding announcement flows from the Government’s Powering North Queensland Plan, which commits to investing in strategic transmission infrastructure to encourage renewable energy in North and North West Queensland. According to the government data, North and Far North Queensland currently have 1700 MW of operational renewable energy generation capacity, and another 60 MW to begin exporting at the Kennedy Energy Park near Hughenden.

Other projects in early stages of development include: Equis’ 1 GW solar farm near Collinsville North, Infigen’s 40 MW solar farm near Bowen and Pacific Hydro’s 400 MW Haughton Solar Farm Stage 2, which will complement the project’s 100 MW Stage 1.