Genex moves forward on 50 MW Kidston project

The Sydney-based developer says ongoing plans to build new transmission infrastructure in the state will “significantly de-risk these projects” and allow it to expedite development. Earlier this month, the Queensland state government promised to provide AU$150 million ($114.2 million) to help fund the development of transmission lines that will accommodate both the second stage of the solar project and the pumped storage hydro installation. Genex claims the new infrastructure —which is still subject to a feasibility study — could facilitate the development of up to 2 GW of renewables capacity in northern Queensland.

Genex also selected Grant Samuel earlier this month as its financial adviser for the second 270 MW phase of the Kidston project. The Sydney-based corporate advisory group will raise a mix of equity and debt to support development. Societe Generale will also work on the next phase of the project, according to a recent online statement.

However, Genex still needs to bring another lender on board to reach financial close on the second phase by the end of this year. It aims to sign a PPA for the second stage within the next few months and plans to launch an EPC tender by the end of June.

Construction of the first 50 MW phase at Kidston is on track and within budget, with the company expecting to start generating electricity by the fourth quarter. The first phase will be fully completed in the first quarter of 2018, following completion of site clearing, civil works and the installation of electrical equipment for the Ergon Kidston switchyard.

Genex is in the process of installing First Solar’s thin-film PV modules at the site but is still also building piles, which will support the frames on which the panels will be mounted. It has not finished assembling the NEXTracker module framing system, which includes a single-axis tracking system.

In February, Genex secured AU$100 million in debt financing for the first phase of the Kidston array from Clean Energy Finance Corp. (CEFC) and Societe Generale. The arrangement allowed the company to wrap up funding for the project’s EPC and O&M requirements. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has also provided AU$8.85 million in grant funding to support the development of the project.

The Kidston installation will be the first project in Australia to combine a utility-scale PV array with a large-scale pumped hydro storage system. The initial phase — which is being built at a shuttered mining site about 270 kilometres northwest of Townsville — will annually generate about 145.9 GWh of electricity upon completion, or enough to meet the needs of approximately 26,500 homes.