lake­land So­lar & Stor­age

The Australian Energy Review - - CONTENTS - EL­IZ­A­BETH FABRI

Phase One con­struc­tion at Genex Power’s Kid­ston So­lar Project is well and truly un­der­way. With Gov­ern­ment sup­port locked in for Phase Two and the Pumped Stor­age Hy­dro project, the Hub is set to de­liver trans­for­ma­tive ben­e­fits for North Queens­land.

THE 570 megawatt (MW) Kid­ston Re­new­able En­ergy Hub is be­ing built at a crit­i­cal time for Queens­land.

With gas and elec­tric­ity costs soar­ing, Genex Power saw an open­ing in the mar­ket for a project com­bin­ing both so­lar and pumped stor­age hy­dro to put down­ward pres­sure on prices.

“Three years ago we saw some struc­tural changes oc­cur­ring in the East Coast en­ergy mar­ket, prin­ci­pally the in­crease of gas prices driven by the con­struc­tion of the LNG plant in Glad­stone that is now ex­port­ing a lot of gas off­shore,” Genex Power ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Si­mon Kid­ston said.

“The price of gas has gone up 300 per cent in the last 12 months. We saw that event oc­cur­ring, and we also saw the growth of re­new­ables.

Genex Power came up with the idea of con­vert­ing an aban­doned mine to utilise ex­ist­ing in­fra­struc­ture on site to re­duce de­vel­op­ment costs.

In 2014, the com­pany pur­chased the moth­balled Kid­ston gold mine from Bar­rick Gold; closed since 2001, the his­toric mine was once the largest open-cut gold op­er­a­tion in Aus­tralia prior to the de­vel­op­ment of Kal­go­or­lie Su­per Pit.

Lo­cated 270km north­west of Townsville, the re­ha­bil­i­tated site will soon be home to three re­new­able en­ergy projects; a 50 MW so­lar project (Kid­ston So­lar Project Phase One); a 250 MW pumped-stor­age hy­dro project (Kid­ston Pumped Stor­age Hy­dro Project) and an ad­di­tional 270 MW so­lar project (Kid­ston So­lar Project Phase Two).

Genex ac­quired two pits which it will con­vert into reser­voirs for the hy­dro project; a trans­mis­sion line con­nect­ing Phase one to the Na­tional Elec­tric­ity Mar­ket (NEM); an airstrip; ac­com­mo­da­tion vil­lage; and nearby dam to feed more wa­ter into the pipe­line, if needed.

“There’s also, very im­por­tantly, an en­vi­ron­men­tal author­ity which was put in place by the gold mine which we can use for what we’re do­ing for power gen­er­a­tion,” Mr Kid­ston said.

“This project comes fully per­mit­ted, and prob­a­bly gives us half a bil­lion dol­lars’ worth of sav­ings and is re­ally per­fect for what we are seek­ing to do.”

In a twist of fate, the his­toric mine had fam­ily ties to Mr Kid­ston.

“My great, great grand­fa­ther was the Premier of Queens­land in 1909,” Mr Kid­ston said.

“We didn’t ac­tu­ally have any own­er­ship of the site at all, but when they dis­cov­ered gold there was a mas­sive gold rush and the town that grew up around the mine it was named af­ter the Premier.”

phase one progress

Con­struc­tion on the Kid­ston So­lar Project Phase One (50MW) be­gan in Jan­uary this year, and was now more than 50 per cent com­plete.

“It’s ac­tu­ally be­ing built on the tail­ings stor­age fa­cil­ity, where they [Bar­rick] put the waste ma­te­rial from their gold mine ac­tiv­ity,” Mr Kid­ston said.

“The land was per­fectly flat and proved to be the ideal lo­ca­tion for the so­lar farm.

“Com­mis­sion­ing of project will be­gin by the end of Novem­ber when we will gen­er­ate our first en­ergy, and then prac­ti­cal com­ple­tion when ev­ery­thing is to­tally fin­ished and signed off will be at the end of Fe­bru­ary.”

The con­struc­tion phase was ramp­ing up fast, with the team in­stalling on av­er­age 24,000 pan­els a week.

“It’s lit­er­ally be­ing trans­formed ev­ery day; it’s amaz­ing,” he said.

“In to­tal 540,000 pan­els will be in­stalled on a track­ing sys­tem which means the pan­els fol­low the sun, so in the morn­ing they face east, and they progress as they grad­u­ally face west.

“By do­ing that sim­ple in­no­va­tion we pick up a mas­sive amount more of the sun’s en­ergy which we ob­vi­ously con­vert into cash flow.”

Once com­plete, Phase One was ex­pected to pro­duce 145,000 MWH of en­ergy per year (enough to power more than 26,484 homes), which will be supplied di­rect to the NEM.

It would also in­crease the to­tal of re­new­able en­ergy gen­er­a­tion in Queens­land by 5.5 per cent alone; a size­able in­crease given the State was only gen­er­at­ing about 6 per cent of its en­ergy from re­new­ables at present.

phase two so­lar and hy­dro

Phase Two of the so­lar project and the ad­join­ing Kid­ston Pumped Stor­age Hy­dro project was also mov­ing for­ward.

In early June, the State Gov­ern­ment an­nounced it would com­mit $150 mil­lion to­wards de­vel­op­ing a trans­mis­sion line con­nect­ing the Phase Two so­lar and hy­dro projects to the na­tional grid.

Weeks later, the good news con­tin­ued; both projects re­ceived crit­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture’ and ex­panded ‘pre­scribed project’ dec­la­ra­tions by the State Gov­ern­ment, pro­vid­ing fur­ther as­sur­ance for Genex to ac­cel­er­ate de­vel­op­ment plans.

“The Queens­land Gov­ern­ment has been in­cred­i­bly sup­port­ive,” Mr Kid­ston said.

“By declar­ing this project crit­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture puts us in the very rare com­pany of projects they’re want­ing to sup­port, in fact there is only one other project in Queens­land that’s at the top of the list.

“That means we’re at the top of the Gov­ern­ment’s think­ing in terms of how they can progress and make this project hap­pen.”

Phase Two will com­prise a 270 MW so­lar farm with po­ten­tial to pro­duce a mas­sive 783,000MWH each year, while the 250MW hy­dro project will be ca­pa­ble of stor­ing 1,500MWH of en­ergy over a six-hour pe­riod, tar­get­ing pe­ri­ods of peak de­mand.

“It’s re­ally like a gi­ant wa­ter bat­tery,” Mr Kid­ston said.

“What we’re plan­ning to do is use the power from the Phase Two so­lar to drive the elec­tric­ity to pump the wa­ter from the lower reser­voir to the up­per reser­voir, and by do­ing so en­able us to gen­er­ate into the evening price peaks.”

Pend­ing fi­nal fund­ing ar­range­ments with debt and eq­uity part­ners, Mr Kid­ston said the so­lar project would in­volve an 18 month build and was set to come on stream by mid-2019, while the hy­dro por­tion would take three years to con­struct and be com­plete by 2021.

Sup­port­ing lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties

The Kid­ston Re­new­able Hub will pro­vide a num­ber of short and long term ben­e­fits to the North Queens­land re­gional com­mu­nity.

Phase One of the so­lar project had al­ready cre­ated 88 jobs, and Phase Two and the Hy­dro project will de­liver a fur­ther 500 jobs for the re­gion.

“Prior to the con­struc­tion of our Phase One there was very lit­tle em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties in the re­gion, where now [the project] has put a mas­sive shot into the lo­cal com­mu­nity’s eco­nomic stim­u­lus,” Mr Kid­ston said.

“We’ve given pref­er­ence to lo­cal em­ploy­ees and lo­cal sub-con­trac­tors as part of our com­mu­nity en­gage­ment strat­egy, and sud­denly the place is buzzing again.”

On the broader level, Mr Kid­ston said the hub’s grid sta­bil­ity and en­ergy stor­age ca­pa­bil­i­ties was also what the Queens­land com­mu­nity needed.

“They have got a pumped stor­age project near Bris­bane, which helps the grid in the South­ern part of the State, but they’ve got noth­ing up in the North and that’s what our project seeks to solve,” he said.

“We’ve been at this now for three years and sud­denly the fea­si­bil­ity’s done; we’ve got the mo­men­tum now from the Gov­ern­ment to get [Phase Two and Hy­dro] funded and the next mile­stone is to get it into con­struc­tion, so that’s what we’re ex­cited about.”

“in TO­TAL 540,000 PAN­ELS WILL be IN­STALLED ON A TRACK­ING SYS­TEM Which MEANS THE PAN­ELS FOL­LOW THE SUN, SO in THE morn­ing They FACE EAST, AND They progress AS They grad­u­ally FACE WEST.”

Progress at the Kid­ston So­lar Project Phase one early July.

All im­ages: Genex Power.

Com­mis­sion­ing will be­gin at Phase one in Novem­ber this year.

Plans for the 250MW Kid­ston Pumped Stor­age hy­dro Project.

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