Japan's J-Power recommits to backing Australian pumped hydro project

(Reuters) - Japan’s J-Power on Friday recommitted to back a pumped hydro project in Australia that Genex Power wants to develop after the project was forced to go back to the drawing board to line up funding.

Genex has had to renew debt and equity agreements that were due to expire in December, after failing to sign a power sale agreement earlier this month as hoped with the country’s No.3 power retailer, EnergyAustralia.

Last week, the Australian government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) extended the date of its funding offer until June 30, 2020.

In the memorandum of understanding signed on Friday, Genex and J-Power agreed to negotiate terms for the Japanese firm to acquire a stake in the project or in Genex if certain conditions are met by December 2020, replacing an earlier plan for J-Power to invest up to A$25 million that was due to expire next month.

Genex wants to build a pumped hydro facility using two massive pits at an abandoned gold mine in outback northern Australia.

The facility would act like a giant battery, storing energy by pumping water uphill at times when solar power is abundant and cheap and generate power by releasing water through turbines when the sun goes down and prices go up.

Reporting by Shreya Mariam Job in Bengaluru; Editing by Dan Grebler