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SocGen, CEFC finance pioneering Aussie solar, hydro farm

The scheme, which co-locates a utility-scale solar plant with a pumped hydro storage facility, is the first of its kind in the country.

Australian developer Genex Power has secured a total of A$100 million from two lenders to develop a 50MW solar farm in Queensland. 

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation, the country’s government-run renewables financier, is providing A$54 million of the debt package, with Société Générale contributing the balance. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency, a government-run body that promotes renewables development, is providing a grant of A$8.85 million from its Large Scale Solar competitive round. 

The solar project is the phase one of Genex Power’s Kidston Renewable Energy Hub, located around the former Kidston gold mine in Queensland. Its EPC and O&M will be carried out by Australian engineering company UGL under an A$110 million agreement, according to a filing at the Australian Securities Exchange last December. 

Following the solar development will be a 250MW pumped hydro storage project, for which Genex is seeking financing. The developer is also working on technical feasibility studies for the phase two of the solar project, which will expand the total solar capacity to 270MW. 

The scheme is expected to be the first to co-locate a large-scale solar farm with a pumped hydro storage facility in Australia. The CEFC said this could also be a potential model for other disused mine sites around the country. 

Supplying all its electricity to the national grid, the project has secured a 20-year Revenue Support Deed with the Queensland state government, as part of the Solar 150 Programme, which guarantees a minimum energy floor price.
On track to achieve its initial A$250 million financing target for Australian large-scale solar projects, the CEFC is also looking to finance the development of flexible capacity and large-scale storage assets. 

“Energy storage solutions such as pumped hydro are the next step in our clean energy transition. With the cost of solar generation continuing to decline, we are committed to working with developers to finance opportunities that can complement Australia’s growing renewable energy capacity by adding energy storage and grid stability services,” said Gloria Chan, large-scale solar lead at the CEFC.