Eco Investor February 2017

Pre-Revenue Securities

Good Timing for Pumped Hydro

By Victor Bivell

I'm a political junkie but watching Question Time on TV this week nearly cured me. Given the record heat and the blackouts and load shifting in South Australia and New South Wales, I thought the debate on energy policy might be useful. Silly me.

Instead I re-learned that Question Time is as superficial as ever. That the Coalition pushing slightly-cleaner-but-still-dangerously-dirty coal power is a policy dead-end from hopeful losers. That the prime minister is embarrassingly desperate in his attempts to blame-but-not-blame renewables for the energy woes in South Australia. That Labor failed to expose the prime minister's double standards from last weekend's energy woes in NSW, which unlike South Australia has low renewables and an over-reliance on coal. And that NSW and SA both don't have nearly enough solar panels and solar hot water to catch free energy when there is record sunshine.

The only intelligent thing that came out of giving Question Time another chance was the prime minister pushing pumped hydro as an option to store renewable energy. A pearly needle in a verbal haystack.

Identifying sites around Australia and putting the government wallet behind some serious pumped hydro projects is good but will take time. Meanwhile, the ASX does have a pumped hydro project on the drawing board that could benefit from the free publicity and any extra government support that may result.

Genex Power is developing a pumped hydro project in north Queensland and this will have an adjacent solar farm.

The Kidston Pumped Storage Hydro Project will store and generate energy by moving water between two reservoirs in a disused mine. The 250 megawatt project will be able to store 1,500 MWh over a six hour period, and to start generation in under 30 seconds.

The company says this is ideal for storing large-scale renewable energy. Stage One of the adjacent Kidston Solar Project will be 50 MW, enough to produce 145,000 MWh of renewable energy each year for the National Energy Market. Stage Two will be 270 MW.

Genex Power floated in 2015 at 20 cents per share and so far it has met its development and financial milestones.

In December Genex raised $9.91 million through an oversubscribed placement and in January it raised another $2.56 million through a share purchase plan, both at 22 cents per share. Early this month it raised another $5 million through a placement and is looking to raise another $3 million from a one for 14 pro-rata entitlement offer, both at 16 cents per share.

The company has also just announced financial close on Stage One of the Kidston Solar Project through a $100 million debt package from Societe Generale and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. An Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) Grant of $8.85 million will also be applied towards construction.

The company has signed UGL Ltd to build the Solar Project and construction is expected to commence soon. First generation and revenue should be achieved by the December quarter this year. Until that flows, Genex is a pre-revenue company, so it remains speculative.

Genex is now focusing on the financial package for the pumped hydro project. It hopes to start construction next year and commence operations in 2021.

The company has done well to find a solar energy and pumped hydro opportunity that suits the times. But luck is always welcome and having the prime minister spruik pumped hydro is definitely good timing. (ASX: GNX)

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