Australian developer advances 250 MW pumped hydro project


From pv magazine Australia

Genex Power said on Thursday that it has secured AUD 660 million ($508.7 million) in external financing for the 250 MW/2 GWh pumped hydroelectric energy storage (PHES) facility to be built alongside the existing 50 MW Kidston solar farm in Queensland, Australia.

Sydney-based developer Genex had already secured a AUD 610 million debt facility from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) and a AUD 47 million project grant funding agreement from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and EPC contractors McConnell Dowell Constructors and John Holland Group.

The final piece of the financing puzzle was a AUD 3 million variation deed to the loan note subscription agreement it secured from Clean Energy Finance Corp. (CEFC). The financing package, in conjunction with Genex’s fully underwritten AUD 115 million of fundraising in late March, means that the project is now fully funded. The company said construction is set to start this month.

“Following execution of the construction documentation for the Kidston pumped storage hydro project, I am delighted that we have now executed all outstanding finance documents and, in doing so, secured all of the funding required to construct the project,” said Genex CEO James Harding.

The PHES facility, which will be built at the site of the abandoned Kidston gold mine, is part of the Kidston Clean Energy Hub, which includes the already operational 50 MW solar farm. Genex has declared there is also potential for further multi-stage wind and solar projects.

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The 250 MW PHES facility was initially scheduled to reach financial close in 2019, but has struck some roadblocks but is now on track to become the first pumped hydro plant to be built in Australia in almost 40 years, and the first to be used specifically to support the integration of variable renewable energy generation from solar and wind.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the project would provide reliable, dispatchable, and affordable renewable energy to the grid.

“This is a landmark project for all involved and paves the way for renewables to play a larger role in Australia’s electricity grid,” Miller said. “Genex will be delivering the first pumped hydro project in Australia since 1984 and the first to be used solely for energy storage and generation rather than water management.”

The project is part of more than 400 MW of renewable energy and storage projects Genex has in development.

The 50 MW Jemalong Solar Project in New South Wales was energized in early December and commissioning is now underway. Genex is also developing a 50 MW/75 MWh standalone battery energy storage system at Bouldercombe, Queensland.

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