Renewable energy hub at Australian abandoned gold mine closer to becoming reality

Kidston pumped storage hydro project. (Image courtesy of Genex Power).

A project to host a pumped-hydro power facility at the site of the past-producing Kidston gold mine in Queensland, northern Australia, is closer to becoming a reality.

After a series of delays, Genex Power’s (ALX: GNX) $602-million proposal reached financial close this month and construction is set to begin in the next two months, with operations kicking off in early 2025.

The state of Queensland provided A$147 million in funding support. Other backers of the project are the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, Japan Electric Power Development Co 9513.T, and EnergyAustralia. 

The 250-megawatt plant would be Australia’s first pumped-hydro facility in nearly 40 years and it is expected to function for at least 80 years. Once it becomes active, it will pump water uphill from an empty, 300 metres-deep mine pit into a second empty pit when energy is abundant and cheap, and release the water to generate power when prices are high.

The entire system is to be complemented with two solar farms totalling 329 megawatts. The farms are expected to generate the necessary power to pump water in the reservoirs to store the energy, besides supplying enough energy to power about 169,000 homes. 

Pumped hydro is one of the most affordable and commonly used forms of industrial-scale energy storage globally, accounting for nearly 99% of the market. The technique allows the storage of renewable energy from wind and solar, instantly transmitting it to the grid during periods of peak demand, or in the event of an unplanned network outage.

With files from Reuters.

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