Genex Power approached MarchNet in February 2019 to investigate construction and O&M communications options for their proposed Kidston Pumped Storage Hydro Project (K2-Hydro) to be built as part of Genex’s Clean Energy Hub at Kidston. Genex’s project is designed to provide 250MW of clean energy to the National Energy Market.
Prior to engaging with MarchNet, staff and contractors on-site during installation of the Stage 1 50MW Solar Farm were forced to operate low speed, high-latency satellite services, due to a lack of existing telecommunications infrastructure in the region. This resulted in decreased efficiency and increased risk of isolation impacts to workers.
MarchNet was given a mandate by Genex to design quality high speed communications to support the construction of K2-Hydro including supply of at least 100Mbps internet to the onsite construction camp & offices, Camp Wi-Fi, and mobile phone coverage.
In late March 2019, MarchNet provided an initial concept presentation to Genex, including proposed fee structure, with a call to action requiring detailed design and boots on the ground.
Genex formally engaged MarchNet as the telecommunications design partner in June 2019.
In July 2019, following Genex’s approval, MarchNet began detailed desktop design and planning activities, including;
- Confirmation of scope items and deliverables
- Fibre capacity checks with multiple carriers and government infrastructure operators
- Microwave link path mapping and frequency specification
- Repeater tower specification
- Solar Power system specification
- Landowner identification for proposed repeater sites
- Temporary satellite service specification
- High Level budget estimates
- Site Survey planning and logistics
The design firmed up, with the network including primary and redundant fibre services from diverse carriers, construction of four new remote telecommunications tower facilities with three landowners and two new access tracks (including a 70m tower at the project site), colocation on two existing telecommunications facilities, 6 licensed high speed microwave links, a Wi-Fi Mesh network for the camp, and an Optus 4G Small Cell for mobile phone coverage. The network has a design capacity of over 300Mbps for internet and private network services, with capability to increase to >1Gbps with minimal hardware upgrades, to future proof the site for Genex.
These design actions were completed and accepted by Genex in August 2019, allowing progression to the Site Survey in September 2019.
Director of Business Development Geoff Marsh and Network Engineer Nick Podmore were selected to conduct the intensive week-long field exercise to verify the challenging radio network.
Geoff and Nick deployed via Townsville to begin; consultation meetings with several landowners and key stakeholders along the proposed microwave network path, granular planning and mapping of access tracks, confirmation of line of sight for microwave paths, and scoping out detailed tower locations in line with the desktop design.
The site survey resulted in a number of positive changes to the desktop design, including decreased tower construction costs, decreased deployment timeframes and positive initial land access negotiations.
Detailed Costing and Planning
Following the completion of the site survey, MarchNet prepared a For Construction Design (FCD), and completed an extensive detailed cost and timeframe analysis on the FCD. Several options were explored including alternative radio manufacturers, cost/benefit analysis on radio frequency choice, off-grid/autonomy allowances for solar sites, etc.
In October 2019, following the completion of the cost analysis, a Firm & Binding Offer was made to Genex, including options for commencement of early works to condense the timeframe for delivery following the K2-Hydro Final Investment Decision (FID). These early works included temporary layer 2 satellite communications, Optus 4G Small Cell mobile phone coverage, tower engineering, procurement of unique and long lead time items, and establishment of fibre backhaul services.
No further action was required from MarchNet, while Genex secured project funding and prepared for a FID, until June-2020 when the first of the Early Works scope items commenced.
Early Works Stage 1
MarchNet’s design timeframe outlined that the fibre backhaul installation process would be lengthy due to the remoteness of the location and the significant lack of available backhaul capacity in the region. It was also identified that there was an added risk that capacity may not be available in future without significant financial investment, due to other large projects announced in the region which would be in competition for the available capacity. This transparency gave Genex the information they needed to make the decision to prioritise this work package. Following Genex’s direction to proceed with stage 1 of Early Works, MarchNet instructed one of the two fibre backhaul carriers to commence the installation of their fibre service.
In hindsight, it can be shown that the risk of long delivery timeframes and competition for backhaul capacity manifested as predicted, justifying Genex’s decision to proceed early.
Early Works Stage 2
As Genex’s project approval and FID process timeline firmed, it became evident that wet season delays could materially impact the establishment of access tracks for the new Telecommunications Repeater facilities required for the project. In late 2020, in time to beat the La Niña wet season, Genex provided approval for the commencement of Stage 2 of Early Works. This included the commencement of MarchNet’s SAED process; engaging with landowners to execute access agreements and begin establishment of access tracks.
Early Works Stage 3
Following the physical works during Stage 2, MarchNet’s team in Brendale QLD engaged Optus to begin SAED and installation of their 4G Small Cell, and commenced tower and spectrum engineering for the licensed microwave links to be built during the installation process. Upon completion of the spectrum engineering process, procurement of long-time items commenced as well as procurement of high–powered radios and antennae.
As a result of the timely commencement of Early Works packages for K2-Hydro, Genex are ideally positioned with smarter telecommunications rapidly deployable upon the announcement of the FID for the project. MarchNet are pleased to have been involved with Genex’s team through the entire design, planning and early works program and look forward to a swift and successful project deployment.
If you’re planning a project and need professional, impartial advice, please reach out to the team at MarchNet, we would be happy to work with your team to provide smarter connectivity solutions.
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