Old mine to become home for new hydro storage plant

Genex is on track to develop a hydro storage plant at a disued mine in north Queensland, expected to power around 100,000 homes.

The company recently completed its Kidston pumped-storage technical feasibility study, with up to $4 million in funding from the Australian Renewable Agency (ARENA) to support the work.

The study outlined the design and capacity of the Kidston Hyrdo project, including the civil works program and equipment specifications.

Arena CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the project would essentially convert the mine into a giant battery.

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 is said to provide the same kind of grid support services as a gas or coal fired power plant.

“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,” Frischknecht said.

He added that early indications showed it could provide low cost storage.

“It comes at a time when cost effective storage options are becoming increasingly important as more large-scale renewable energy generation enters the national electricity market.”

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

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

“Genex is now focussed on securing finance for the project and is fast-tracking revenue and contracting negotiations.

“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.”