The latest and greatest power projects
we take a look at the latest and greatest power projects kicking off in Australia’s energy industry
DECLINING MANUFACTURING COSTS AND INCREASING PUBLIC AWARENESS OF ENVIRONMENTAL DANGERS MEANS THAT SOLAR IS ONE OF THE FASTEST GROWING SOURCES OF RENEWABLE ENERGY. SOLAR CAPACITY HAS NEARLY QUADRUPLED OVER THE LAST FIVE YEARS, RISING TO NEARLY 400GW BY THE END OF LAST YEAR AND CONTRIBUTING TO NEARLY 20% OF GLOBAL POWER GROWTH IN 2017. BUT WHERE ARE THE BIGGEST SOLAR POWER PLANTS?
The nations pulling ahead in the sunny sector are China and the US, which together make up two-thirds of the global growth in solar power. However, with a spate of planned projects across the globe, the title of ‘largest solar plant’ is never held for long.
We profile the eight biggest solar power plants in the world by installed capacity.
Numurk ah Solar Farm, VIC
Neoen Australia is undertaking the construction of a solar power plant in Wunghnu, Victoria, Australia.
The project involves the construction of a 100MW solar power plant on 500ha of land. It includes the construction of substations and related infrastructure, and the installation of 350,000 solar panels and transformers, and the laying of transmission lines.
GHD Pty Ltd has been appointed as the planning consultant and Industry Capability Network as a management contractor.
In April 2017, Neoen submitted the planning application to Moira Shire Council (MSC), and received planning approvals from MSC in August 2017.
In December 2017, Downer Group was appointed as the engineering procurement and construction (EPC) contractor.
In May 2018, a 15-year agreement was signed to supply power to the Laverton Steel Works.
In July 2018, the project achieved a financial close and secured A$41m in loans from Clean Energy Finance Corporation. Construction works also commenced in July.
Installation of the first panels is scheduled for October and commercial operations are slated to begin in May 2019.
Numurkah solar farm site before installation. Image credit: Numurkah Solar Farm
Aurora Solar, SA
SolarReserve plans to build a solar thermal plant in South Australia.
The project involves the construction of a 150MW solar thermal power plant. It includes the construction of a substation and an energy storage system to store 1,100MWh for up to eight hours, the installation of solar panels, generators, 10,000 billboard-sized mirrors and transformers, and the laying of transmission lines.
In February 2016, SolarReserve submitted the project plans to the Department of Planning for approvals.
The project will be funded through the Clean Energy Innovation Fund (CEIF). The CEIF will be run by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
In March 2017, the federal government decided to fund A$84 million for the project.
SolarReserve entered into a long-term generation project agreement (GPA) with the Government of South Australia (GSA) in August 2017.
In January this year, SolarReserve secured necessary approval from the authorities. The company is in the process of appointing an EPC contractor.
Aurora solar plant. Image credit: SolarReserve
Arcadia Gas Field, QD
Santos and Gladstone Liquefied Natural Gas (GLNG) are planning to build a gas field in the Bowen Basin, offshore Queensland, Australia.
The project involves the construction of a gas field with an initial production capacity of 75 terajoules per day. It includes the construction of well head platforms, a 140km gas and water pipeline, two 4G communication towers, a compression station, a water treatment plant with a capacity of 4 million litres per day, a 5MW gas-fired power station, access roads and related infrastructure, drilling of 137 wells, and the installation of equipment and machinery.
In April 2018, Santos received the exploration rights. As of July, planning activities are underway.
Braemar III Gas-Fired Power Station, QD
ERM Power (EPW) is planning to construct the Braemar III gas-fired power station project in Queensland, Australia, 40km southwest of Dalby.
The project involves the construction of a 550MW open-cycle gas-fired power plant and an 80km high-pressure underground gas pipeline.
It includes the construction of a gas storage facility, combustion chambers, gas storage tanks, a water treatment plant, a switchgear and a cooling tower, the installation of chimneys, turbines and heat recovery steam generators and the laying of transmission lines.
The site for Braemar III forms part of ERM Power’s existing extensive land bank in the area. Existing infrastructure associated with the Braemar site should provide opportunities for future developments, with the rapid expansion of coal seam gas activity in the region, expected to ensure a competitive and secure supply of gas.
ERM Power has already commissioned the Braemar II power plant. In addition, ERM Power has executed a connection and access agreement with PowerLink Queensland’s Braemar sub-station located adjacent to ERM Power’s land holdings, which will provide a high degree of transmission security, being on the main interconnector between Queensland and New South Wales.
It will supply cleaner electricity to around 50,000 homes and will contribute significantly to reduce the state’s carbon emissions intensity.
The Braemar III project will use the best available gas turbine technology to produce electricity efficiently and cleanly to help meet Queensland’s demand for electricity and contribute significantly to reducing the state’s carbon emissions intensity.
Braemar power station. Image credit: Wikicommons
Seymour Cherry Tree Wind Farm, VIC
Infigen Energy (IFN) is planning to undertake the construction of the Seymour Cherry Tree Wind Farm project near Seymour town in Mitchell Shire, Victoria, Australia.
The project involves the construction of a 48MW wind farm comprising 16 wind turbines with tower heights up to 159m (poles height of 100m and blade height of 59m). It includes the construction of associated infrastructure facilities such as a substation, overhead and underground cabling, site office and installation of turbines.
Aurecon Australia has been appointed as the study consultant for the project.
In April 2012, IFN submitted a planning application to Mitchell Shire Council (MSC) for an approval. The application was rejected in November 2012 due to protests from the local community.
IFN decided to submit an appeal against the MSC’s decision to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) and to submit a revised planning application in the first quarter of 2013. The project obtained necessary favourable interim approvals from VCAT in November 2013.
Moir Landscape Architecture (MLA) has been appointed to undertake the preparation of a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment. In July 2015, IFN was in the process of negotiation for a power off-take agreement.
As of October 2016, IFN is working towards meeting all approval conditions of consent and obtaining the project connection agreement.
Nilgen Wind Farm, WA
Pacific Hydro is planning to construct the Nilgen Wind Farm project, located 9km east of Lancelin, Western Australia.
The aim of the project is to increase the power generation capacity and to reduce the power demand/supply gap in Western Australia.
The project involves the construction of a 104.5MW wind farm with 38 wind turbines of 2.5MW capacity each. It includes the construction of a powerhouse, a substation and access roads, the installation of 90m towers, with blades up to 48m long, rotor diameter up to 96m and blade tip up to 138m, turbines, a generator, and the laying of transmission lines.
Pacific Hydro commissioned Ecoscape to undertake the preparation of a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) for the Shire of Gingin in accordance with the Planning and Development Act 2005.
In December 2009, Pacific Hydro received approval for the wind farm.
In January 2013, the Economic Regulation Authority released a notice and determination to approve an exemption for Western Power from compliance with certain requirements of its technical rules in relation to the connection of the wind farm.
Upon completion, the project is expected to produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of around 53,000 homes each year.
Wheatstone LNG Plant, WA
Chevron Australia, in a joint venture with Woodside Petroleum, Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration, Kyushu Electric Power and PE Wheatstone, is constructing a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant in Western Australia.
The project involves the construction of a 25mtpa multi-train LNG and domestic gas plant, and is being developed in two phases.
The first phase includes the construction of two LNG processing trains with a combined capacity of 8.9mtpa (4.45mtpa each) and a 7 million cubic metre domestic gas plant.
The project includes the construction of a 5km jetty, with an access channel 18km-25km long and 0.25km-0.4km wide, a dredged channel and a marine offloading facility that may be shared by all users of the LNG facility.
The main aim of the project is to produce enough LNG to bridge the demand-supply gap in domestic settlements. Additionally, the company plans to develop significant natural gas resources offshore northwest Australia.
The project is expected to reinforce Australia as an expanding and reliable supplier of clean, natural gas for the 21st century. The Wheatstone field was discovered in 2004, 145km offshore in the Carnarvon Basin in water depths of around 200m.
In December 2008, the company selected a preferred site at Ashburton North, 12km west of Onslow on the Pilbara coast of Western Australia, as the location for the LNG and domestic gas plant.
Wheatstone LNG plant. Image credit: Chevron Australia
Port Kembla LNG Import, NSW
Australian Industrial Energy Group (AIEG) comprising JERA, a joint venture of Tokyo Electric Power and Chubu Electric Power, and Squadron Energy and Marubeni Corporation, is planning to build an LNG plant in New South Wales, Australia.
The project involves the construction of storage tanks with a capacity of 26.83 million cubic metres per day, a jetty, processing units, a refinery, import terminal, and pumping stations, and the installation of safety and security systems.
General Electric is providing technical support and design services.
BlueScope and the Illawarra Business Chamber have considered Port Kembla as the location for the project. However, in June 2018, AIEG finalised Port Kembla as its preferred location.
AIEG is currently planning to submit a planning application to the government. Subject to the approvals and the commencement of construction, the project is expected to be completed by 2020.
Port Kembla. Image credit: Luke Peterson via Flickr
Baroota Pumped Hydro Power, SA
Rise Renewables plans to build a pumped hydro power storage plant in South Australia.
The project involves the construction of a pumped storage hydro power plant with a generation capacity of 200MW–230MW. It includes the construction of a power house, a substation, laying of transmission lines, pipelines and installation of turbines and safety systems.
The project aims to enhance growing renewable energy generation, reduce power price volatility and aid the energy security in the region. The project will create 100 jobs during the construction stage.
In February 2018, Rise Renewables received a A$2.3m grant from the South Australian Government’s Renewable Technology Fund towards accelerated engineering, design and development activities in support of the project.
Planning activities are underway.
Highbury Pumped Hydro Power, SA
A pumped hydro power storage plant is planned by Tilt Renewables in the decommissioned Highbury Quarry at the northeast of Adelaide, South Australia.
The project is expected to have four and half hours of generation capacity. It will involve the construction of a 300MW hydro power plant with a storage capacity of 1350MWh on 350ha of land. It includes the construction of substations, two penstock pipes and a powerhouse and the installation of turbines and generators, and the laying of transmission lines.
The project aims to enhance growing renewable energy generation, reduce power price volatility and aid the energy security in the region. The project will create 300 jobs during the construction stage.
The project is currently awaiting approvals. Subject to the project viability and commencement, construction is expected to be completed by 2021.
Highbury quarry. Image credit: Ersu via Flickr
Clarence Strait Tidal Power Plant, NT
Tenax Energy is planning to undertake the construction of a power plant in Northern Territory, Australia.
The project involves the construction of a 200MW tidal energy power plant. It includes the construction of a powerhouse and other related facilities, and the installation of 200 turbines of 1MW each, and the laying of transmission lines.
URS Australia has been appointed as survey contractor for the project.
Consultation will occur with state government, local government, environment groups, fishing groups, local community, and indigenous groups, to meet the proponent’s Triple Bottom Line assessment.
The installation will take approximately one year per sub-area to complete. To manage the increased capacity on the Darwin/Katherine electricity grid, the project site will be developed in several phases.
In September 2012, the Northern Territory Government granted a site licence for the project.
In November 2012, Australia’s Charles Darwin University signed a memorandum of understanding with Tenax in the first step towards building a new facility. A research centre is expected to be built, and it will likely begin with a 2MW pilot plant.
Derby Tidal Power Plant, WA
Tidal Energy Australia is planning to construct a tidal power plant at Doctor's Creek in Derby, Western Australia.
The site was chosen because of extreme tidal movements.
The project proposals were reviewed in 2011, eight years after it was abandoned due to its high cost. The project will be the world's third largest tidal power plant.
The project involves the construction of a 40MW tidal power plant, which will eventually increase to 100MW. It will include the construction of a powerhouse, substations and related infrastructure, the installation of turbines and transformers, and the laying of transmission lines.
The aim of the project is to generate and provide uninterrupted power supply to 15,000 homes in the Kimberley region of Australia.
Tableland Sugar Mill Biomass Power Plant, QD
A biomass power plant is being built at Tableland Sugar Mill in Mareeba by MSF Sugar.
The project will use renewable sugar cane fibre, known as bagasse, to generate 24MW of electricity, which is enough to power every house in the Tableland region.
Bagasse, a natural cellulose fibre found in sugarcane, is used to power boilers that produce steam under high pressure. This steam is used to power turbo-alternators that produce electricity – much like those found in hydroelectric power plants.
It expects no increase in emissions from the plant once the project is complete, and waste from the power generation process will be recycled back onto cane farms adjacent to the sugar mill.
The project is part of MSF Sugar’s A$383m plan to build four biomass power plants with a combined capacity of around 100MW at Mulgrave near Cairns, Tableland Sugar Mill in Mareeba, South Johnstone near Innisfail and Maryborough. The Tableland plant will be the first of a possible four plants at the company’s mills.
The proposed project is expected to create 80 jobs.
MSF Sugar Tableland Mill manager Kirk Lang. Image credit: MSF Sugar
Port Hedland Waste to Energy Plant, WA
New Energy Corporation is planning to undertake a waste to energy project in Pilbara, Western Australia.
The project involves the construction of a waste to energy plant with 72MW of heat generation and 18.5MW electricity generation capacity, of which 15.5MW will be supplied to the grid. The plant will have a processing capacity of 70,000-130,000tpa of waste.
The project includes the construction of an onsite steam pipeline, chimneys, powerhouse, substation, internal access roads and related infrastructure, the installation of generators, turbines and transformers, and the laying of transmission lines.
The plant will process waste food, green waste, paper, cardboard, various plastics, textiles, oily waste, wood tyres and rubber.
In April 2013, the project received preliminary approval from the EPA with final approvals received in May 2013.
In June 2014, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) agreed to provide up to A$38m in senior debt finance for the development of the project.
In December 2014, the City of Karratha signed an agreement with New Energy to provide 60,000 tonnes of landfill waste to convert it into electricity. In July 2016, New Energy and Town of Port Hedland signed a 20-year waste and renewable power services agreement.
Cover image credit: Thomas Koch/Shutterstock