Plans to develop large-scale solar and hydro pumped storage projects at Kidston in North Queensland, Australia, have taken a major step forward with news that  developer Genex Power Limited has received approval from the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) to proceed to the full due diligence phase.

The approval for Stage 2 of the projects follows a strategic assessment phase, which involved preliminary and assessment stakeholder consultation. Genex is currently working on advancing the the 270MW solar and 250MW hydro projects with a view to commencing construction in 2018. The decision by NAIF is a welcome announcement for the Company as discussions progress towards providing the necessary information to NAIF to enable NAIF to make a final investment decision.

NAIF is a Federal Government organisation mandated with $5 billion in aggregate loans to encourage and complement private sector investment in developing new or substantially enhancing existing infrastructure that benefits northern Australia. This may include airports, communications, energy, ports, rail and water.

As one of only two Queensland Government designated Critical Infrastructure projects in Queensland, and being north of the Tropic of Capricorn, Genex is keen to access NAIF funding for its projects.

?Commenting on NAIF’s decision, Michael Addison, Managing Director said:

“Genex welcomes this decision from NAIF as it views NAIF as an integral partner in the Stage 2 project financing.  This latest communication from NAIF comes on the back of a string of recent positive announcements by the Company, including the Queensland State Government’s intention to commit $150 million to develop a 275kV transmission line in Northern Queensland to include linking Genex’s Stage 2 projects to the Powerlink network; the Finkel review recommendations including a proposal for the broader deployment of renewable and intermittent energy accompanied by energy storage, including batteries and pumped hydro; and the declaration of Critical Infrastructure and the expanded Prescribed Project by Queensland State Government.”

Laurie Walker, CEO of NAIF. added: “NAIF is looking forward to working with Genex on the full due diligence phase for Genex’s Stage 2 solar and hydro pumped storage facility at Kidston in North Queensland. NAIF is keen to support infrastructure projects across northern Australia that will generate public benefit and economic and population growth in Northern Australia, such as this in the renewable energy sector”.