Kidston’s landmark renewable energy hub is on track to reach full production during 2018, according to latest reports.
The word’s first combined solar and pumped hydro hybrid project in Queensland is already selling electricity to the grid.
As the project ramps up to full capacity, the state can expect generation of around 783 GWh of renewable electricity per year. The hub will power more than 140,000 Australian homes.
Genex Power Ltd, which owns the renewable energy hub, reported this week that works are due for completion later this year. The ground-breaking renewable power complex is 270 km north-west of Townsville on the site of two former gold mining pits.
Renewable energy hub a win for Queensland
Kidston Stage Two comprises a 250 MW pumped hydro-electricity storage facility (K2–Hydro) alongside a 270 MW solar PV energy plant (K2–Solar).
The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) provided funds of $8.9 million to support the first phase of the Kidston project, Genex reports. Up to $9 million of ARENA funding is on offer for the second stage.
The Queensland Government is also supporting development of the renewable energy hub. The state will provide a 20-year revenue support deed for KS1 through the Solar 150 Program. The hub has been designated ‘critical infrastructure’ for Queensland.
Genex Power Ltd has also partnered with engineering contractor UGL for K2-Solar and infrastructure experts McConnell Dowell for K2-Hydro.
Why Kidston renewable energy hub is special
Because hydro and solar power exist side by side, the hub is designed to produce energy in a reliable, dispatchable and affordable way. Kidston should provide strong, consistent sunlight throughout the year, backed up by the flexibility of hydro energy.
It will subsequently build security and reliability into the grid. This increases the value delivered by renewable energy, Mr Frischknecht claims.
The Kidston hub is one of 12 major solar farms that ARENA supports. The combined projects should unlock almost $1 billion of investment in commercial solar power, ARENA says.
Significant government investment should also make such projects more commercially attractive and viable for private investors.