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Australia’s Genex energises first BESS, signs JDA for 2GW solar-plus-storage project with Japanese partner

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Australian renewables and storage developer Genex Power has switched on its first battery storage project and entered a joint development agreement (JDA) with Japan’s J-Power.

Genex, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), said just before the end of June that its 50MW/100MWh Bouldercombe Battery Project (BBP) standalone battery energy storage system (BESS) in Queensland is set to begin its commissioning phase.

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While that means it has a few months more to wait before the start of commercial operations, the company said the key milestone of energising the project has been achieved on-time and on-budget. Genex Power reached financial close on Bouldercombe Battery Project in early 2022.

It is expected to go into full operation in time for Queensland’s summer peak load season toward the end of this calendar year. Genex Power has an offtake agreement in place with technology provider Tesla for the BESS to be optimised with Tesla’s Autobidder platform.

Using Autobidder, Tesla will play the BESS’ stored energy into market opportunities, including maximising revenues from energy arbitrage and the National Electricity Market’s (NEM’s) frequency control ancillary services (FCAS) markets, according to an ASX announcement from Genex. Tesla has also given its client a guarantee of minimum revenues from market operation.

For Queensland, the battery will be an important resource for helping integrate growing shares of renewable energy to the state’s energy mix, and will be one of many. The state government recently upped its renewable energy targets considerably, and pledged to support the transition of its energy sector – and economy – away from fossil fuels.

These pledges or commitments include direct funding support for renewable energy, BESS and pumped hydro energy storage (PHES) projects, a 6GW transmission line buildout, programmes to support workforce skilling up and keeping the energy system in public ownership.

Pumped hydro contingency funding, agreement for solar-plus-storage project

Genex Power is in fact currently building Australia’s first new PHES plant in almost 40 years, Kidston 2 Hydro, in northern Queensland, a 250MW, 8-hour (2,000MWh) project sited at an abandoned gold mine. Construction began in May 2021 and it is scheduled for completion during next year. Kidston 2 forms part of a clean energy hub that already has a utility-scale solar PV plant, and a 258MW wind farm is also in development through Genex.

Genex said five days ago that it has secured a funding package from Japanese power generation solutions and consulting group J-Power worth AU$44.5 million (US$29.71 million), part of which will be applied to replenish a contingency fund for the Kidston 2 PHES project.

The fund was depleted somewhat in late 2022 through a water ingress event, which added costs to the construction push. AU$35 million of the funding package comprises a loan facility agreement, and Genex said it “will be principally utilised by Genex to provide an additional standby source of funding for the K2-Hydro contingency,” although the funds may not be needed.

Also announced by the two companies was a joint development agreement (JDA) for the development of Bulli Creek Solar and Battery Project. Also in Queensland, it represents what will be one of Australia’s biggest solar-plus-storage projects to date, and one of the biggest in the world, in the city of Toowoomba, in the southeast of the state.

As reported by Energy-Storage.news in August 2022 as Genex Power acquired the in-development project from developer Solar Choice, there will be five phases to the buildout. The first will be a 400MW/1,600MWh BESS plant, followed by between 475MW and 675MW of solar PV generation capacity. With subsequent phases, PV generation capacity could reach 2GW, the company claimed.

J-Power will pay upfront acquisition funding costs of AU$2.5 million, and AU$6 million upfront funding towards third-party development costs. 50% of the latter will be reimbursed by Genex once financial close is achieved, and once that funding has been used, the pair will continue funding third-party development costs on a 50:50 basis.

Under a separate development funding agreement, J-Power will contribute a further AU$1 million towards Genex’s internal development costs for Bulli Creek. The two companies have already been working together on the Kidston Stage 3 Wind Project, and the AU$35 million loan facility for Kidston 2 is secured against Genex Power’s equity interests in Bulli Creek and Kidston Stage 3 Wind, maturing on 31 December 2026.

Energy-Storage.news’ publisher Solar Media will host the 1st Energy Storage Summit Asia, 11-12 July 2023 in Singapore. The event will help give clarity on this nascent, yet quickly growing market, bringing together a community of credible independent generators, policymakers, banks, funds, off-takers and technology providers. For more information, go to the website.

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