Australia’s first pumped hydro energy storage system in 37 years is set to begin construction as Genex Power reaches financial close on its 250-MW Kidston Stage 2 PHES project, according to a press release from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
The $777 million project (including required transmission infrastructure) will be the first pumped hydro plant to be built in Australia since 1984 and the first to be used specifically to support the integration of variable renewable energy generation from solar and wind.
Located at the former Kidston Gold Mine at the Kidston Clean Energy Hub in North Queensland, the facility will produce about 2,000 MWh of baseload power, equivalent to eight hours of energy storage. Two existing mining pits at the former gold mine will be used as the upper and lower reservoirs to minimize construction time and costs. During off peak periods and when the sun is abundant, water will be pumped back to the upper reservoir using electricity imported from the National Electricity Market (NEM).
ARENA will provide $47 million in funding toward the project. ARENA also already provided funding for feasibility and development totaling $9 million for this pumped hydro stage, as well as initially providing $8.9 million towards Genex’s 50-MW Kidston Solar Project in 2016.
The project is also supported with $610 million in concessional debt finance from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF).
Genex has now finalized its capital raising process to allow the project to reach financial close. EnergyAustralia is to be the project offtake partner for up to 30 years. A joint venture of John Holland and McDonnell Dowell is the EPC contractor.
A 187-km-long transmission line, supported by the Queensland Government and Genex, will be required to connect the Kidston Renewable Energy Hub to the NEM. This transmission line is also expected to facilitate the connection of further renewable generation projects in the region.
Construction is expected to be completed by 2024. The project is expected to generate 500 construction jobs and 20 ongoing operation roles.
“On behalf of ARENA, I’d like to congratulate Genex on reaching financial close on a project that has been many years in the making,” said ARENA Chief Executive Officer Darren Miller. “The Kidston PHES project will supply dispatchable, renewable energy to the grid when and where it is needed and provide a blueprint for how we store excess solar and wind energy at scale.
“Projects like this play a significant role in progressing Australia’s energy transition. Storage solutions such as pumped hydro and large scale batteries are a key part in providing back up power and grid stability as highlighted in the Australian Government’s first Low Emissions Technology Statement.”