This gold mine is now a groundbreaking renewable scheme
The once-lucrative Kidston gold mine, in northern Queensland, Australia, ceased operations 15 years ago. Now, it’s about to enjoy a second lifetime as the home of a one-of-a-kind renewable energy project.
Genex Power, a renewable developer, is going to use the mine’s two 300 metres-deep craters to create the world’s first pumped hydroelectric energy storage (PHES) system in conjunction with an integrated solar farm.
The facility will work by utilising the site’s two adjacent pits as reservoirs, with water flowing downhill from one crater to the other. When electricity demand is low, the water will be pumped back uphill and retained for later use. In a full generation cycle, it’s expected that water levels in the upper reservoir will shift by eight metres, while levels in the lower reservoir will fluctuate by up to 44 metres.
The thing that makes the Kidston project unique is that the project will recycle the water it uses to generate electricity, only tapping into a nearby dam if backup resources are needed.
The energy required to pump the water back uphill will be supplied by either the grid or the 50MW solar farm being installed next to the site of the former mine. The solar component alone will produce enough energy to power over 27,000 Australian homes.
It’s thought that the PHES system will supply a maximum of 2,250MWh of continuous power in one generation cycle. The project comes with an AU $100 million price tag and will likely be completed by the end of next year.
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.