Kidston Solar Project, Queensland, Australia

kidston solar project

The Kidston Solar Project involves the development of a 270MW solar farm on the site of the historical Kidston Gold Mine, located approximately 270km north-west of Townsville in Northern Queensland, Australia.

The project is being executed by Genex Power in two phases. The phase one will deliver an installed capacity of 50MW, while the phase two will expand the total capacity to 270MW. The ground-breaking for the first phase of the project was held in February 2017. The project is scheduled to be fully commissioned by November 2017.

Phase one is estimated to generate 145GWh of renewable energy annually year, which will be sufficient to power 26,484 Australian homes and offset approximately 120,000t of CO2 emissions a year.

The project is co-located with the 450MW Kidston hydro-pumped storage power generation project, which is currently under development.

Kidston solar project location

The abandoned Kidston gold mine site has been preferred for the project as it is one of the highest solar radiation zones in Australia. The site also offers accessibility to Townsville and Cairns and is located in close proximity to an existing substation and transmission line.

The solar farm's development will minimise the existing leaching effects of the tailings storage facility.

Power off-take

Genex Power signed a long-term, fixed-price, 20-year power purchase agreement with the Queensland government for supply of power generated from the solar farm in September 2016. The financial closure for the 50MW phase one was achieved in December 2016.

Kidston solar power plant make-up

The Kidston solar farm will be installed with First Solar's 4v3 Modules (S4-Modules) of advanced thin film series. The functionality of the S4-Modules has been proven to deliver a high level of performance worldwide. The modules will be ideal to suit the hot and humid climates at the Kidston site.

The phase one of the project is scheduled for completion in the last quarter of 2017.

A new transmission line will be built during the second phase of the project. The existing substation and transmission line at the site will connect the solar farm with the Queensland region of the National Electricity Market (NEM).

"The financial closure for the 50MW phase one was achieved in December 2016."

Contractors involved

UGL was awarded a contract by Genex Power to deliver engineering, procurement and construction (EPC), and operation and maintenance (O&M) services for the first phase of the Kidston solar project in June 2016.

Genex Power preferred First Solar as the supplier of photovoltaic modules for the solar power plant in September 2016.

AECOM Austraila is the owner's engineer and technical advisor, while Ergon Energy Corporation will be responsible for distribution of electricity from the plant.

Baker & McKenzie is the legal counsellor and PWC is acting as tax structuring advisor for Genex Power.

Genex Power appointed Societe Generale as the lead debt financing arranger and financial advisor for the project.

Financing for Kidston Solar Project

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is the funding partner for the $94m (A$126m) project.

Genex Power also secured an initial grant of A$8.85m ($6.6m) from ARENA for the construction of the Kidston project. The company further received credit approval for a debt facility of up to $82m in December 2016.

Genex Power received debt finance of A$54m ($41m) from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation for phase one of Kidston project in February 2017.