April 1, 2021: Australia’s Renewable Energy Agency has conditionally approved up to A$47 million ($36 million) to fund the first pumped hydro plant to be installed in Australia for almost 40 years, ARENA confirmed on March 24.
The K2-Hydro 250MW/2,000MWh PHES project, at the former Kidston gold mine in north Queensland, will turn the old pits into an upper and lower reservoir to hold water and pump it between them to generate power.
Genex Power, leading the project, says its flagship installation is the first pumped hydro system in the world to use a disused gold mine, and it will also integrate large-scale solar generation. The solar part, KS1, will add another 50MW of generation to the total capacity, with the potential to increase it and add wind generation.
ARENA says the construction should be completed by 2024.
“This is a landmark project for all involved and paves the way for renewables to play a larger role in Australia’s electricity grid,” said ARENA CEO Darren Miller.
“Genex will be delivering the first pumped hydro project in Australia since 1984 and the first to be solely for energy storage and generation rather than water management.
“Large-scale storage will play a key role in ensuring security and reliability of Australia’s electricity system as we transition to renewables. Pumped hydro is expected to be a key technology enabling us to store abundant solar and wind energy when it is available and dispatch this energy later, so it is imperative these projects get under way.”
Australian consumers have some of the highest electricity bills in the world, and the country is at the forefront of new storage installations amid the global trend towards renewables and storage.
The country plans to double the size of its 150MW/194MWh Hornsdale battery, which was the largest battery in the world when it was installed in 2017.