Australian company Genex Power has kick-started main construction works for its 250MW Kidston pumped hydro energy storage project in the state of Queensland.
Work has started on tunnel digging at the site of two disused gold mine pits.
Genex said it has undertaken extensive works throughout December and January to establish an underground main access tunnel at the Kidston site that will provide access to a “powerhouse” cavern being established 250 metres below ground level.
The main access tunnel will be dug to be six metres wide and six metres tall and will run for approximately 1.5km to provide access to the main generation and pumping equipment.
The powerhouse will host two 125MW Andritz hydro reversible pump turbines, allowing the hardware to be used to both generate electricity and pump water for energy storage purposes.
Genex chief executive James Harding said the commencement of major engineering works at the site was a significant milestone for the project.
He said: “Following an intense period of site establishment and preparation works, I am delighted that the EPC Contractor JV of McConnell Dowell and John Holland has formally commenced the underground excavation works for the Kidston Pumped Storage Hydro Project.
“This represents a significant milestone in the project construction timeline, which was achieved ahead of schedule.
“We look forward to working alongside the EPC JV and keeping the market updated as the program continues to push ahead over the course of this year.”
Genex expects to complete the main access tunnel in early 2022, with tunneling operations to continue on a 24/7 basis following the first major blast and excavation works needed to establish the tunnel.
The project is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2024.
Genex is developing the project after securing a A$610m (€387m) investment from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility and a A$47m grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.
Last year, the ASX-listed Genex undertook a further A$115m fundraising, through the issuance of new shares, to raise the remaining funds needed to carry out the A$777m pumped hydro energy storage project.