The Yallourn power station’s maintenance workforce will swell by up to five times its usual strength for 10 weeks as the plant’s owner, EnergyAustralia, does planned major works, injecting some $40 million into the Latrobe Valley economy.
Head of the EnergyAustralia-owned Yallourn power station, Mark Pearson, said the workforce would increase from around 100 permanent power station maintenance staff to 530 at the peak of the scheduled “outage”.
“The Latrobe Valley is home to some of the most highly skilled and specialised energy workers around the country and the maintenance we’re doing will make full use of their skills,” Mr Pearson said. “It’s challenging but vital work as we refurbish the Unit 3 generating plant so it can run reliably until its next major outage in six years. The remaining units continue to produce power with maintenance teams working on getting the plant ready for warmer weather over summer when demand can rise sharply.
“This program is all about making sure the Yallourn power station is there when our customers need it,” he said.
The outage is planned to conclude by mid-November. It’s expected to contribute more than $40 million to the Latrobe Valley economy through wages, services and the manufacture and delivery of materials and equipment. Further unit outages are planned for 2020 and 2021.
The 1480-megawatt (MW) Yallourn power station has capacity to deliver around 20 per cent of Victoria’s electricity demand with reliable baseload power. Last summer, the plant had 98 per cent availability on the market’s 10 highest demand days.
On average EnergyAustralia spends $170 million each year in operating the Yallourn power station and mine, including maintenance, wages and security.
The current work will include replacing large sections of high-pressure steam pipes to ensure the station can continue to generate reliably and safely until the planned end of its life in 2032. A total 210 metres of boiler pipes, weighing 76 tonnes, will be replaced. The task involves 119 complex welds along 52 sections of pipework, with each weld taking several shifts to complete across a 20-hour work day.
In recent years, EnergyAustralia’s maintenance and upgrade works have improved Yallourn’s efficiency, allowing the plant to produce power for 100,000 extra homes without having to burn a single, additional lump of coal. Each of the plant’s four generation units, representing about 350 MW each, have major outages every six years. Less intense “integrity” outages are done every four years on each of the generating units.