Work starts on Qld pumped hydro

Work has officially begun on a multi-million dollar Pumped Hydro Energy Storage Project 270 km northwest of Townsville.

Genex Chairman Ralph Craven

The project, being delivered by Genex Power and backed by a $610 million loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) and $47 million from ARENA, will transform the abandoned Kidston gold mine into a pumped hydro energy storage facility.

The first sod was turned last Thursday.

The facility will produce approximately 250MW / 2,000MWh of dispatchable power for export to the grid, ARENA says.

It’s the first PHES deployment project in over 35 years in Australia and the first PHES project in Australia to be delivered by a private developer.

Managing energy demand

Pumped hydroelectricity schemes are seen as a flexible way of managing electricity demand.

In conventional hydroelectricity generation, water flows from a dam or reservoir where it has been stored and is then channelled through rotating turbines that generate power.

In pumped hydro, two dams work in a cycle that pumps water into an upper reservoir during off-peak hours. Potential energy can then be stored and generated when it’s needed.

The 250 megawatt Kidston pumped storage hydro power station will be built using the pits of the old mine with water running from the upper to the lower pit through two turbines at the times of peak power demand, and pumped back up during low demand.

The construction phase of the project will include a new dam, an underground cabin to house the powerhouse. It will also include the construction of the 186 kilometre transmission line which will take the power to the grid in Townsville.

Genex chairman Ralph Craven says the battery is expected to be operational by 2024 and have 80 years of economic life.

Resources minister Keith Pitt says the project will deliver eight hours of energy storage daily when it starts operating.

NAIF has supported projects with a total value of around $1 billion in Queensland, with the Kidston project its biggest investment so far.

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