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An abandoned gold mine in Far North Queensland will become the first co-located solar and pumped storage hydropower station as construction begins on the 250MW Kidston Pumped Storage Hydro Project.

The power station, located 270km northwest of Townsville, will be the first pumped hydropower station to be built in Australia in almost 40 years.

Genex has commenced main construction works at the Kidston Gold Mine. It is no small project, linking two water-filled pits to create a battery that will stabilise the North Queensland grid and potentially have the capacity to power 280,000 households. 

It will give the equivalent CO2 savings of taking 33,000 cars off the road.

The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) has invested $610 million in the project, while the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has given a $47 million grant, and in 2021 Genex issued new shares, raising $115 million. The total invested in the project is $777 million.

Genex acquired the Kidston mine with fully-operable camp infrastructure for accommodation, access to additional fresh water from the nearby Copperfield Dam, as well as licences, access roads and an airfield, a switchyard, and a 132kV transmission line from the Queensland Government.

Genex has been operating a 50MW solar farm near the site since 2017. A planned 150MW wind farm and solar expansion will contribute the energy needed to pump water from the lower to the upper pits. 

Kidston is to be connected to the main grid through a new 200km-long 275kV transmission line from Kidston to the East Coast of Queensland.

The engineering works will include building a “turkey’s nest” around the top of the uppermost mine pit. 

This will create a storage capacity of 2000MWh. Water stored in this upper reservoir will fall some 220m down two vertical inlet shafts through reversible turbine-generators into the lower reservoir to generate electricity. Startup time is expected to be less than 30 seconds.

It is expected that the 250MW Kidston Pumped Storage Hydro Project will be operating by 2024.

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