EnergyAustralia, operator of the Tallawarra power station, is investing $9.5 million in a maintenance program that will enable the combined-cycle gas plant to react more quickly to shortfalls in market supply.
EnergyAustralia Asset Leader Jason Lee said more than 100 skilled workers had joined the plant’s existing workforce to overhaul, and in some cases, replace or upgrade equipment. When completed, the work will allow the 435-megawatt (MW) plant to be brought into action 30 minutes faster.
"Tallawarra isn’t designed to run all the time – it’s job is to respond to peaks in demand by bringing more supply into the market, often at short notice," Mr Lee said. "With prices and system reliability every minute matters, so shortening the time it takes to start the plant by even half an hour can make a big difference.
"Gas-fired generation is great for supporting the integration of intermittent wind and solar energy into the national electricity grid. The work we’re doing now will help ensure Tallawarra remains an important part of the energy mix in the Illawarra region and New South Wales for decades to come."
The two-month outage that began in April involves replacing the plant’s high-pressure drum that helps create a supply of steam. Australia’s largest mobile crane has been shipped in to make possible two 85-tonne lifts.
Mr Lee said the outage was a big and complex operation, relying on a skilled workforce with a commitment to safety.
Autumn is typically an ideal time for maintenance, after the summer air-conditioner peak and ahead of the winter heater season. "By the time we’re finished, Tallawarra will again be ready to respond to support the winter and summer demand peak," he said.
Tallawarra’s 435 MW-capacity can provide enough power to supply up to 200,000 homes. The use of gas and steam turbines allows the state-of-the-art station to generate electricity efficiently, using less fuel than conventional plants and minimising impact to the environment.
EnergyAustralia recently added to its gas-generation portfolio the Newport and Jeeralang power stations in Victoria, representing 950 MW of capacity. The intermediate and peaking plants are generally brought into operation when demand is high or as short-term replacements while other plants are serviced.