Case studies of ARENA’s work in 2017-18 are provided in this section to demonstrate our purpose, performance and impact.
Genex Power Limited
$5.0 million (up to $4.5 million convertible)
Delivering secure and reliable electricity
In the six years since it was created, ARENA’s grant funding has contributed to the creation of 19 new grid-connected large-scale solar farms across Australia. Twelve of these were funded through the large-scale solar (LSS) competitive funding round in 2016, which helped to slash the cost of big solar projects to the same level as wind energy projects.
The trend has continued, with Australian utility-scale solar projects now being announced without the need for government grant support.
ARENA now has 19 projects involving big solar in its portfolio. Having helped to bring down the cost and increase the development of large-scale solar projects in Australia, ARENA widened its focus this year to explore the best ways of integrating large amounts of solar energy into the grid while keeping energy costs low and the grid stable.
With support from ARENA, the world’s first integrated solar and pumped hydro project is being developed by Genex Power in Kidston, Queensland. That support has been provided in three stages: $4 million towards a $6.2 million feasibility study for the pumped hydro energy storage (PHES) component, $8.9 million towards the $126 million Kidston Stage One solar farm (as part of ARENA’s LSS round), and $5 million to help the combined project reach financial close in 2018.
The hybrid solar and hydro project, known as Kidston Stage Two, is expected to comprise a 250 megawatt pumped hydroelectricity storage facility using two decommissioned mine pits and a 270 megawatt solar farm. It will be capable of generating around 783 gigawatt hours of renewable energy each year, which is enough to meet the average annual power needs of 140,000 Australian homes.
The project will demonstrate the benefits of a solar PV and PHES hybrid generating reliable, dispatchable and affordable renewable energy. The PHES will also be able to provide stability and support to the grid, including FCAS.
In addition to repurposing two decommissioned mine pits for the pumped storage component, the project developer Genex is using infrastructure left from the previous mining operation to save time and money as well as minimise any environmental impact. These include the mine’s accommodation camp, airstrip, road access and an electricity substation and transmission line.