ARENA boosts Kidston solar and pumped hydro project

Gene Oiwes pumped storage hydro project

The world’s first integrated solar and pumped hydro hybrid project in Kidston is one step closer to being built after receiving funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

The $5 million in funding from ARENA, will help Genex Power bring the landmark project to financial close in 2018.

The Kidston Stage Two is a hybrid solar and hydro project is expected to comprise a hybrid 250MW pumped hydro electricity storage (PHES) facility and a 270MW solar PV power plant, generating around 783GWh of renewable electricity per year and powering over 140,000 Australian homes.

The Kidston site is located 270km north west of Townsville and will utilise two existing gold mining pits as the reservoirs for the project to minimise construction time and costs.

Genex managing director Michael Addison said the company was pleased to continue its partnership with ARENA for the Kidston Stage 2 Project.

“The continued support from ARENA is testament to the innovative nature of the project, and the growing importance of large-scale energy storage in the context of the increasing penetration of renewable energy in the National Electricity Market,” he said.

“It also represents a vote of confidence in the pathway Genex has outlined to financial close.”

The solar PV and PHES hybrid enables Genex to create a reliable, dispatchable and affordable energy generator that is entirely renewable.

PHES will also be also be able to provide stability and support to the grid, including ancillary services.

During peak power demand periods water will be released from the upper to the lower reservoir, passing through reversible turbines.

During off peak periods and when sun is abundant, water will be pumped back from the lower reservoir to the upper reservoir using electricity primarily from the solar farm.

“Stage Two of the Kidston hydro and solar project is an important step in achieving a secure and reliable grid for Australia and increasing the value delivered by renewable energy,” ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said.

“Kidston will be the only grid connected solar project located in Australia’s solar red zone, providing consistent strong sun throughout the year, and combining it with pumped hydro will provide Queensland access to an entirely renewable flexible energy option,” he said.

ARENA’s funding will help the project reach financial close by mid-2018, with up to $4.5 million of the grant to be convertible at the Minister’s discretion.

ARENA has previously provided $4 million to Genex towards the technical feasibility study of the PHES portion of the project, and a further $8.9 million towards Kidston Stage One solar PV project as part of the $92 million large scale solar PV competitive round.