Genex Energy (ASX:GNX) has secured environmental approvals for its 250 megawatt (MW) pumped hydro storage project in far north Queensland.

CEO James Harding says they can now focus on achieving financial close for the project.

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In December, Genex expected to reach financial close on the hydro project by early this year.

The Kidston project consists of a currently-operating 50MW solar farm, the pumped hydro development based on two decommissioned open cut gold mines, and a solar and wind section of up to 420MW.

Last year Genex split its hydro project away from the energy generation to please offtake partner EnergyAustralia.

Energy Australia wanted to do a deal on the hydro but less so on the solar and wind, as they were keen for ‘dispatchable power’ — electricity that can be switched on or off as needed, rather than waiting for sun, wind, or for a gas plant to ramp up.

Director Simon Kidston (no relation to the former gold mine) says Genex is working on turning the EnergyAustralia term sheet into a binding contract.

EnergyAustralia will own half of the entity that is being set up to build the hydro project via an equity investment, and Genex is renegotiating a $516m Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) loan approved in June last year to cover all of the hydro project financing.

Genex is planning to use solar and wind power to pump water from one dam to the other, and release that as electricity when it’s needed into the Queensland grid.

In December, the company said construction on the hydro project will start by June this year, and take three years to complete.

Mr Kidston confirmed the construction start date to Stockhead, and says they should have financing closed by then too.

The second, 270MW, solar project was expected to begin construction towards the end of this year, to be finished alongside the hydro project.

A 275kV transmission line will be hooked up in 2021, and Genex expects to hit ‘go’ on the lot in 2022.

Water, water everywhere

The Kidston project is one of at least nine pumped hydro storage projects seeking finance or under feasibility studies.

The others include several in South Australia from Tilt Renewables’ (ASX:TLT) 300MW Highbury dam and EnergyAustralia’s 225MW Cultana project, to GFG Alliance’s 90MW Iron Duchess North, Altura Group’s 230MW Goat Hill, and the 200-270MW Baroota project by Rise Renewables.

Victoria has the 30MW Bendigo Mines project while Tasmania is focusing on its ‘Battery of the Nation’ development which is targeting 2500MW over multiple sites.

NSW is proposing to support 24 pumped hydro projects with a capacity of 7 gigawatts (GW).

Elsewhere in energy today:

  • The federal government has granted Boss Resources (ASX:BOE) an export permit for its Honeymoon uranium project, a detail the company said was critical to re-starting the mine.
  • Tlou Energy (ASX:TOU) has raised $1.2m from sophisticated investors to keep the gas flowing at production wells and to spend on their efforts to secure a power purchase agreement in Botswana. The company wants to use coal bed methane as a power source for Botswana and southern Africa.
  • Winchester Energy (ASX:WEL) has found 50 feet of oil shows at its White Hat 3 well in Texas. More testing needs to be done, but White Hat 2 had an initial completion oil flow rate of 20 barrels of oil per day (bopd) and after fracking that rose to 200 bopd.
  • Calima Energy (ASX:CE1) is also excited about oil shows in British Columbia (BC), Canada, with saturations of up to 59 per cent and 64 per cent in drilled cores.