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Herbert Smith Freehills advises ARENA on landmark A$47 million grant for pumped hydro project

26 May 2021 | Australia, Asia Pacific
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Herbert Smith Freehills has advised the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) on its grant funding of A$47 million in relation to the Kidston Pumped Hydro Energy Storage project. 

Located in Kidston, North Queensland, the proposed A$777 million pumped hydro project will be the first pumped hydro plant to be built in Australia in 37 years and the first to be specifically used to aid the integration of variable renewable energy generation. In a world-first, the plant will use two dormant gold mine pits located at the Kidston Clean Energy Hub to reduce construction costs and support the use of renewable energy supplies.

The Herbert Smith Freehills team was led by partners Elizabeth Charlesworth and Alison Dodd, with the support of senior associates Arnica Mullins and Josh Singer and solicitors Henry Simpson and Stephanie Simm.

Ms Charlesworth said, “the successful funding of the pumped hydro project, the first pumped hydro plant in Australia in over 30 years, illustrates the development of the Australian renewables market and ARENA’s commitment towards innovative projects and the development of knowledge sharing.

“While the market is still experiencing evolution, this transaction supports pumped hydro plants as a stable form of renewable energy, capable of delivering viable long-term results.”

Allens Linklaters advised the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) on its loan of A$610 million to the pumped hydro project. Genex Power Ltd (Genex), advised by Baker McKenzie, will also contribute A$120 million in equity, inclusive of a $25 million investment by J-Power in Genex. John Holland Pty Ltd and McConnell Dowell Constructors (AUST) Pty Ltd, advised by MinterEllison, are engaged as joint venturers to construct the pumped hydro project.

This deal is another example of Herbert Smith Freehills’ market-leading work in renewable energy financing. Other recent examples include:

  • advising financiers on the project financing of UPC\AC Renewables Australia’s New England solar farm
  • advising on the acquisition of a 40% stake in the A$511 million East Rockingham Waste to Energy Project; and
  • acting for the senior lenders in respect of the A$650 million project financing of the consolidated platform refinancing of the 3 Hornsdale wind farms.

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