Wednesday 21 July 2010

Green power for Cairns from Barron River hydro

A major overhaul of the hydro-electric power turbines at Barron Gorge Power Station has just been completed.

The Barron Gorge hydro power station is Australia’s first underground power station and the most northern generation site on Queensland’s electricity grid, and has been in operation since 1960.

The station is managed by Stanwell, a government owned corporation, who have spent $9 million to rewind two generator units at Barron Gorge Hydro. This makes the station more reliable and efficient. The upgrade will increase generator capacity by 10%.

Barron Gorge Hydro, a 60 MW power station, produces approximately 260,000 tonnes less of greenhouse gases a year compared to a coal-fired power station. It is one of only a few power generation facilities in Queensland able to supply green power.

The power station was originally expected to be at the end of its service by 2010, but the upgrade will extend its life until at least 2055.

Steve Wettenhall, member for Barron River says that $28 million was set aside for a mid-life refit three years ago, and it was the largest project undertaken at the power station since it was built.

Work at the site included a pre-overhaul testing program; generator dis-assembly; stripping and disposal of old winding; conductor generator bearing condition assessment and testing; install new winding into the core with final testing and painting; install online condition monitoring; commission generator and final testing.

“This is about delivering clean, green power to the people of the far north,” Wettenhall says.


Unknown said...

Does that mean a 10% reduction in electricity prices? No. It will keep going up and up.

Frank said...

Hydro, while better than coal, is the least green of "green" energy because it takes precious water away from our streams (e.g. look at the Snowy River) and the infrastructure is a blight on the landscape. Given the Barron River power station already exists, it makes sense to extend its life, but greener alternatives such as solar and wind need to be investigated. But we can all help the environment by using less energy.

Unknown said...

$28M to extend the life of an existing hydro station another 40 years and get a 10% efficiency improvement is a really good, cost-effective deal. Yes, there're greener alternatives and yes, a dam is an eyesore, but let's be thankful for every non-fossil fuel energy source we can get, especially if it's cheap and prevents the building or expansion of a coal- or gas-fired power plant.


Curious said...

The small dam at the top of the Barron Gorge, which acts as a weir, keeps water in parts of the river upstream that would otherwise run dry.

The water used in the station is all returned to the river.

brad m said...

solar and wind are not baseload power sources - sadly.

baseload power is required for when the wind stops blowing (or blows too hard) or darkness (or even cloud cover) prevent these super clean energy sources from working.

MaryO said...

A very recent report demonstrates that Australia can potentially shift to 100% renewable energy in 10 years! S


Wendy Davie said...

If each community and household contributed with the many available means of generating electricity, many, many small contributions, our dependance on coal fired generators would diminish. There are many examples of this means of sustainable living across the globe.
Let's celebrate that in FNQ we have this facility and let's not forget the contribution, small though it is, of Paranella Park.

The reason the Snowy river is depleted is because water was entirely diverted into another direction/system.