The proposed Kidston pumped storage project in North Queensland, Australia, could see capacity increase to a maximum of 450MW thanks to a new design.

Specialist power and water consulting firm Entura developed what it has described as an ‘innovative design’ for Genex Power’s project, allowing the increase from an initial 330MW.

Following an extensive project optimisation process, Entura and project partner HydroChina produced a design that has the potential to increase the plant’s head and peaking generation capacity of the project to the maximum of 450MW over a 5-6 hour period, beating earlier expectations, the companies said.

"The new design provides the lowest cost per MW of installed capacity and presents the lowest operating and environmental risk," said Genex Power Managing Director Michael Addison. "Clever thinking and commercial focus has delivered an optimal design solution to maximise the potential of our project."

Project Director and Principal Consultant, Civil Engineering at Entura, Richard Herweynen, said significant studies and investigations have been undertaken over the past few months to provide confidence around this solution.

"Our new design, which provides for a low turkey’s nest dam design for the upper reservoir located on the top of an old waste rock dump, was developed through a detailed options assessment and optimisation process," explained Herweynen. "This new configuration incorporates several strategic advantages and removes a number of the previous constraints inherent in the initial concept and, most significantly, enables a substantial increase in the installed capacity of the project from the initial 330 MW to up to 450MW, which is a fantastic outcome for our client."

The Kidston project is being developed at the disused Kidston Gold Mine in North Queensland and the feasibility study phase is being supported by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

There are currently only three pumped storage hydro schemes in Australia.