Australian renewable energy and storage company Genex Power this week announced it has secured AU$516 million (US$382 million) in financing from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility for a 520 megawatt (MW) solar PV and pumped-hydro storage project.

Genex Power, which developed Kidston 1, announced on Wednesday that the Board of the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) had supported a financing structure for the Kidston Stage 2 Project which consists of the 250 MW Kidston Pumped Storage Hydro Project and the 270 Kidston Solar Project. NAIF will provide an indicative term sheet for a long-term concession debt facility of up to AU$516 million (US$382 million), which will be subject to a series of terms and conditions.The 520 MW Kidston Stage 2 Project follows on from the successful 50 MW Stage 1 project, located in Far-North Queensland and successfully completed late last year. Generating 145,000 MW-hours (MWh) each year, Kidston 1 generates enough clean electricity to meet the equivalent of 26,500 homes and offsets 120,000 tonnes of CO2 annually. The project was the first to make up the Kidston Renewable Energy Hub, built on the old Kidston Gold Mine in an effort to make use of the existing infrastructure as well as the natural solar conditions.

The groundbreaking project is a world-first in several categories, being the first pumped-hydro storage project to utilize an abandoned gold mine and which, if it were currently operating, would be the largest solar project in the southern hemisphere. The solar project will be made up of over 3 million solar panels and will generate 783,000 MWh each year, generating enough power to meet the needs of the equivalent of 143,014 homes and offsetting 648,000 tonnes of CO2 annually. The storage project will be able to provide 2,000 MWh of stored electricity, or 250 MW for 8 hours, with a ramp-up time of less than 30 seconds.

“Genex is very pleased to work with NAIF in the development of the Kidston Stage 2 Project,” said James Harding, CEO of Genex. “The issuance of the Term Sheet and NAIF’s support to negotiate the detailed terms of a long tenor, concessional loan which would secure the bulk of the Project debt funding, is a significant milestone in the development of the Project.

We wish to thank NAIF for their strong support and look forward to working with them over the coming months as we move towards achieving financial close in the latter half of the year.”

“NAIF’s indication of this support will assist Genex to advance its discussions with other Project counterparties and to prove up the Project fundamentals,” added Laurie Walker, CEO of NAIF. “This is a demonstration of how NAIF can work with stakeholders to help them understand how its concessional financing can support the development of a project which has the potential to provide substantial benefits to Northern Australia.

“NAIF sees the Project as important for the transition of the market to lower emission renewable energy sources, and the Board’s preparedness to consider a capital commitment of the size referred to in this announcement reflects the alignment of this type of project with NAIF’s objective to contribute to the transformation of Northern Australia through infrastructure development.”

It’s worth noting, however — as RenewEconomy chief Giles Parkinson pointed out this week — that NAIF has had a spotty history with regards to its financing decision-making, having approved funding for the absurdly-controversial Adani coal project, and having made very few contributions over the past three years.