Qld solar farm paves the way for innovative pumped hydro storage project
- Renewable energy
From gold mine to renewable energy hub
The Kidston Renewable Energy Hub, north-west of Townsville in Queensland, will be the first of its kind in Australia to repurpose an old gold mine as a pumped hydro storage facility that is supported by a solar farm.
Phase One of the Hub, a 50 MW large-scale solar farm developed by Genex Power Ltd, is generating and exporting solar energy to the grid.
Genex secured $54 million in debt finance from the CEFC in February 2017 to develop the Kidston Solar Farm, which has the capacity to produce 145GWh of renewable electricity a year. That is enough renewable energy to power almost 26,500 Australian homes and abate 120,000 tonnes of carbon emissions a year.
The perfect place for solar generation
The site is ideal for a solar farm because it has one of the highest solar irradiation levels in Australia and year-round solar exposure. There is an existing substation and transmission line next to the plant, which add to the site's solar suitability. The Queensland Government has a 20-year set-price Power Purchase Agreement with the solar farm.
The solar farm generates low cost solar electricity, which will eventually be stored by the hydro facility for use when required. Co-locating a large-scale solar farm with a large-scale pumped hydro storage project, creates a combined generation and storage model that can be used elsewhere, including other disused mine sites around Australia.
Watch: A golden transformation
Refinancing for success
In December 2019, Genex refinanced the project to allow it to also develop the 50MW Jemalong Solar Project in NSW on a merchant basis, while continue to progress the Kidston Renewable Energy Hub.
As part of the refinancing, the original CEFC loan was repaid, with the CEFC then committing up to $19 million in subordinated debt finance to continue to support the Kidston Solar Farm while facilitating the construction of the Jemalong project.
The Genex Power $192 million refinance package – which was been independently verified as a Green Loan and certified under the Climate Bonds Standard – also included senior debt lenders NORD LB, Westpac and DZ Bank AG.
Queensland, Solar, Storage, Renewable energy