Kidston Clean Energy Hub – Kidston Pumped Storage Hydro Project Genex Power Limited
The Kidston Gold Mine (‘KGM’) is located in North Queensland approximately 280km northwest of Townsville. The mine was constructed and operated by Placer Dome Inc. from 1981 through to its eventual closure in 2001. Genex acquired KGM from Barrick Gold in June 2014 with the principal intent of redeveloping the site as a clean energy hub including a pumped storage hydropower station. Entura was engaged to undertake a detailed feasibility study of the Project in 2015-2016 and following further optimisation by Mott Macdonald in 2017 the current configuration of K2-Hydro was established; namely, a 250MW pumped storage generation facility utilising the two existing mining voids (as upper and lower reservoirs) to store between 6 and 8 hours of energy.
Kidston is located in one of the highest solar irradiation zones in Australia. With the support of ARENA, the first stage 50MW Solar Project (‘KS1’) was constructed on the former mine’s tailings storage facility and is under commercial operation. A second stage solar project with a capacity of up to 270MW (‘K2-Solar’) is also under development. For both the Project and the K2-Solar developments, a new 185.9km transmission line is proposed to be developed from Kidston to a new substation at Mt Fox, on the 275kv network between Ross and Chalumbin.
K2-Hydro is considered Genex Power’s ‘Flagship Project’. It represents a unique undertaking to repurpose an abandoned mine to develop a large-scale energy storage facility (located adjacent to the mine site) based on mature technology which will play a key role in the transition of the national electricity system away from reliance on fossil fuels.
K2-Hydro provides much-needed system security and stability to the Queensland electricity network. One of the main challenges Australia, and particularly Queensland, is facing is the exponential growth of intermittent renewables (wind and solar) which are not supported by reliable flexible capacity to ensure the continued stability of the electricity network. As this growth increases and existing baseload power generators such as coal-fired power stations begin to be decommissioned, the security of the network becomes increasingly threatened. Pumped Storage Hydro (‘PSH’) provides a viable technology for ‘firming up’ intermittent renewables, in turn ensuring continued network security. The Project offers 6- 8hrs of storage, large capacity, and has been modelled to operate for over 60 years. Further, the Project provides a range of ancillary services which work to play a crucial role in securing the grid. These ancillary services include inertia, frequency support and system restart capabilities.
K2-Hydro was the first PSH project proposed for development in Australia since the Wivenhoe Project more than 35 years earlier, and the first to be developed and financed privately. A number of other PSH schemes have since been proposed for development around the country. The successful development of the K2-Hydro project will no doubt provide a vital boost to the establishment of further PSH projects in the National Electricity Market and will further demonstrate the potential for abandoned mine sites to be repurposed for such use, adding vital economic input to remote locations and rural towns which would otherwise be closed and suffer significant socio-economic declines.