Case studies

Qld solar farm paves the way for innovative pumped hydro storage project

Location
Queensland
Investment
Solar
Storage
Category
Renewable energy

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 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.

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