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Big financial investment made for $126m energy project

Solar panels

A major funding boost has been secured for a $126 million renewable energy project in Central Queensland.

A private debt syndicate will provide up to 87.3 per cent of the credit required to build Genex Power’s Kidston Solar Farm, 270km northwest of Townsville.

The project already has $8.9 million in federal funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), and engineering, procurement and construction contractor UGL is expected to start work shortly. Construction is anticipated to end before Christmas 2017 and the farm expected to be connected to the grid and fully operational by early 2018.

Genex describes the beginning of site works as a “significant milestone”.

“Genex’s Kidston Solar project benefits from one of the best solar resources in Australia and we will now work closely with UGL to commission the project in 2017. Genex acknowledges the support of ARENA and the Queensland Government,” Genex managing director Michael Addison says.

Queensland Energy Minister Mark Bailey congratulated Genex on securing the credit approval.

“This is another renewable win for the North and for the regions,” he says.

“Upon completion, the Kidston Solar Farm will provide 50 megawatts of renewable energy capacity to Queensland’s North as well as an estimated 100 direct jobs during construction.

“The project is a successful recipient of funding from ARENA as well as additional financial support under the State Government’s Solar 150 program, which provides a 20 year revenue guarantee. I look forward to signing the Solar 150 contract with Genex in the near future.”

The State Government supports a range of solar projects across the regions

“This Kidston announcement is another step towards achieving this target. It joins solar farms which will also be built in Dalby, Oakey, Hughenden, Collinsville, Clare, Barcaldine, Sunshine Coast, Longreach, Lakeland and Normanton,” Minister Assisting the Premier on North Queensland Coralee O’Rourke says.

“All of these projects provide testimony to the investor belief in Queensland’s renewable energy credentials.”

The Kidston project is a “key component” in ARENA’s push to triple Australia’s large-scale solar capacity by supporting 12 new solar farms.

“ARENA’s unprecedented investment in large-scale solar is expected to unlock almost $1 billion in commercial investment that will mostly be spent in regional Australian economies,” ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht says.

“Nationally, the six plants in Queensland, five in New South Wales and one in Western Australia will be a huge boost to regional areas with the expected creation of around 2300 direct jobs and thousands more indirect jobs.”

The signing of the Kidston funding agreement comes weeks after Genex completed a study, which found the construction of a pumped storage facility operating alongside the solar farm was technically feasible.

“This opens up the potential to create Australia’s first big solar plant capable of delivering renewable energy into the grid around the clock,” Frischknecht says.

“The runs on the board for large-scale solar demonstrate the ARENA effect in transitioning Australia to a reliable and affordable renewable energy future. One example is falling local costs, which represent a large portion of overall costs. ARENA support and knowledge sharing activities have slashed the locally determined costs of developing and building plants by more than half in the last three years.”

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