Big step forward for Kidston storage project

Genex’s pumped storage hydro project design.
Genex’s pumped storage hydro project design

Genex’s pumped storage hydro project has taken a significant step forward with the completion of its feasibility study.

The hydro storage plant, located at the disused Kidston Gold Mine in North Queensland, has the potential to power 100,000 homes.

Details on the optimised design and capacity of the storage project have also been released.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the study results showed the project, which would essentially convert the mine into a giant battery, was technically feasible and outlined a best design for the plant.

“With the support of ARENA, projects like Kidston are helping Australia make the transition to a more affordable and reliable renewable energy future,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“This is a very positive milestone and a springboard for Genex to develop and finance the full-scale project.

“The favoured design would be capable of rapidly delivering enough electricity into the grid to power over 100,000 homes when it’s needed most.

“Early indications show it could provide low cost storage that’s significantly cheaper than other options such as batteries.”

The plant is designed to pump water into an upper storage reservoir through the day or overnight when prices are low, then release it into a lower reservoir to generate power during periods of high demand or need.

This approach can provide the same kind of grid support services as a gas or coal fired power plant.

Mr Frischknecht said Queensland was fast adopting renewables and was set to add 300MW of new large-scale solar next year, with support from ARENA’s latest competitive funding round.

This includes a 50MW solar farm being developed by Genex at the Kidston site, with potential to use solar to power the storage plant’s water pumps.

“Genex is now focused on securing finance for the project and is fast-tracking revenue and contracting negotiations,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“If everything goes to plan, Genex should reach financial close and start construction in 2017, in an achievement that would pave the way for more large pumped hydro storage projects at disused mines to support our energy grids.”