Far North Qld energy hub gets fast-tracked.

The final piece of Far North Queensland’s Kidston Clean Energy Hub puzzle will be fast-tracked, bringing together the forces of sun, wind and water on one site.

Acting Queeensland Premier Steven Miles has declared the Kidston Wind Farm as a prescribed project, allowing it to leapfrog “unreasonable delays” in project approvals.

The declaration also gives the State Government Coordinator-General the power to intervene to ensure decision making is not delayed.

The Kidston Clean Energy Hub, located at the site of the old Kidston Gold Mine in outback Queensland near Einsasleigh, about 400km north west of Townsville. It combines solar, wind and pumped hydro.

The Kidston Pumped Hydro Project is the third-largest electricity storage device in Australia, and the first pumped hydro project for more than 40 years. It is also believed to be the first in the world to use an abandoned gold mine.

“The Clean Energy Hub will provide large scale solar, pumped hydro storage and wind energy at a single location,” Miles said.

“It will enable generation, storage and dispatch of renewable energy on demand during peak periods, strengthening the reliability of the energy grid for North Queensland communities.”

The 150MW Kidston Wind Farm, expected to cost $295 million, is being developed by owners Genex Power.

Energy hub: Renewables with storage is the cheapest option

Genex Power Chief Executive Officer James Harding called for the prescribed project declaration for the wind farm.

“It is not only economically and socially significant for the region, we are proud that it will contribute to Queensland’s renewable energy targets,” Harding said.

“This builds on the 50 megawatt Kidston Solar Farm in operation, and our flagship project, the 250 megawatt pumped hydro storage facility under construction.”

A 186km transmission line will connect the Clean Energy Hub to the national electricity grid at Mount Fox near Ingham. It is expected the hub will be feeding into the national electricity market by early 2025.

Stage one of the precinct, the 50MW Kidston solar farm, is regularly ranked among the country’s top performing solar farms by Rystad Energy, with a capacity factor of around 25.5 per cent.

A report to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) in July 2021 noted Kidston was located in one of the highest solar irradiation zones in Australia. Stage two, the Kidston Pumped Hydro Project that will make use of the historic gold mine’s upper and lower pits, is still under construction.

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