Genex Power secures funding for Australia’s first pumped hydro project in 40 years

A view of Wises Pit, one of two old gold mine pits that Australian company Genex Power plans to use for a pumped hydro project, in Kidston, northern Queensland, Australia April 4, 2019. Picture taken April 4, 2019. REUTERS/Sonali Paul

April 15 (Reuters) - Genex Power (GNX.AX) said on Thursday it had secured all funding needed for what will be Australia’s first new pumped hydro project on the grid in about 40 years, and expects construction to start towards the end of the month.

The power generation company will receive a A$610 million ($471.16 million) loan from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility for the 250-MW Kidston project, which is being built at an abandoned gold mine in Queensland.

Australia's renewable energy agency will give A$47 million in grant, while government-owned green bank the Clean Energy Finance Corp will provide a further A$3 million of subordinated debt funding.

The project, which could become a template for similar projects in abandoned mines and dams all over Australia, had been left in the lurch since November 2019, when funding fell through as it could not sign a power sale agreement for the plant.

In March last year, EnergyAustralia, a unit of Hong Kong's CLP Holdings (0002.HK) and Australia's third-largest energy retailer, signed an agreement to buy power from the project.

A series of funding agreements followed with a range of sources, including Japan's Electric Power (9513.T), the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, the Queensland government, Australia's renewable energy agency, and an underwritten capital raising.

Pumped hydro acts like a giant battery, pumping water uphill when energy is abundant and releasing it to create power at night or on a windless day.

($1 = 1.2947 Australian dollars)

Reporting by Arundhati Dutta in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Nikhil Kurian Nainan; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu

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