The Kidston Pumped Storage Project is a feasibility study into the construction of a pumped storage hydroelectric power plant at the disused Kidston Gold Mine in North Queensland.
Located 280km north west of Townsville, the project has the potential to generate up to 330 MW of rapid response, flexible power for delivery into Australia’s National Electricity Market.
The Kidston Pumped Storage Project led by Genex Power recognises electricity generation in a pumped storage system works much like a conventional hydroelectric scheme: in periods of high demand, electricity is generated by releasing water from an upper reservoir through reversible turbine-generators and into a lower reservoir.
However, unlike a conventional hydro scheme, water is not then discharged from the lower reservoir but pumped back to the upper reservoir during off-peak hours using electricity from the grid. This process is similar to the Wivenhoe Pump Storage scheme and Snowy’s Tumut 3 scheme.
The Kidston Project would be a highly efficient form of large-scale energy storage that helps to manage the growth of intermittent forms of renewable energy such as solar and wind.
Intermittent generation can therefore be stored and dispatched to the grid during periods of high demand.
The Kidston Project will be the first in the world to use two disused mine pits for hydroelectric power generation. The use of existing infrastructure from the old mining operation is also expected to significantly lower construction costs. Knowledge gained from this project may be used at other mine sites to generate and store renewable energy.
Like other hydroelectric power plants, the facility will offer rapid response grid capabilities, helping to restart other generators and the electricity grid within seconds in the event of network shutdown.
Genex estimated the power facility will cost $282 milion and aims to commence construction in 2017, with first year of operation scheduled for 2019.
The project will contribute to stability of the electricity grid by combining renewable energy generation with large-scale energy storage capability. It is also expected to help meet the growing demand for electricity at peak times in Queensland, as well as help alleviate the state’s peak power prices.
In the early years of the 20th century, Kidston was a classic Australian gold-rush town. Located 280 kilometres from Townsville, its population boomed from zero to more than 1000 people.