Australian pumped hydro project reaches financial close


From pv magazine Australia

Australia’s first pumped hydro energy storage system to be built in 37 years, Genex Power’s Kidston Clean Energy Hub, is now set for construction, following the financial close of its Kidston Stage 2 project.

The green light for the AUD 777 million ($602.6 million) pumped hydro project (including transmission infrastructure), is a boon to Queensland’s renewable energy ambitions. The 250 MW/2,000 MWh (baseload) hub at the former Kidston Gold Mine will provide the equivalent of eight hours of energy storage and support the introduction of new renewable energy generation in the state. 

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is chipping in AUD 47 million on top of the AUD 9 million it has already spent on feasibility and development of the project, and AUD 8.9 million for the original 50 MW Kidston Solar Project back in 2016. Some of the financing comes from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF), with AUD 610 million. And as pv magazine has previously reported, EnergyAustralia will operate the 250 MW pumped storage asset for up to 30 years.  

The project requires a 187 km transmission line to connect the North Queensland Hub to the National Electricity Market (NEM). The Queensland government has vowed to support this infrastructure. 

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ARENA CEO Darren Miller said that the Kidston 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.” Miller described the project as a significant milestone and pointed to the significant role installations like Kidston have 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,” he said. 

The project will be completed by 2024 and will generate 500 jobs, including 20 permanent positions.

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