Major overhaul planned for 570-MW Wivenhoe Pumped Storage in Queensland

Wivenhoe pumped storage

Queensland’s largest hydropower station, the 570-MW Wivenhoe Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Power Station, will undergo a $14 million overhaul to ensure it continues to produce cleaner, cheaper energy for years to come.

Major maintenance works will start at the Wivenhoe station this month, creating 100 jobs under the Palaszczuk Government’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan. The plant is owned by CleanCo Queensland.

Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Mick de Brenni said Wivenhoe was incredibly valuable to the reliability of Queensland’s electricity network. “All our publicly-owned energy generators have worked around the clock to respond to constraints in the network in these last few weeks,” de Brenni said. “When Callide C Power Station went offline in May, we were able to ramp Wivenhoe up to the point it was generating 530 megawatts over a four-hour period, helping to meet demand and stabilize the network. Never has it been more important to invest in fast ramping, flexible energy generation and storage solutions.”

De Brenni said the upgrades were critical for preserving the ongoing reliability of the plant. “Here in Queensland, we not only own our energy assets, but we invest in them significantly,” he said. “The Palaszczuk Government’s record energy budget includes $2.38 billion in job-creating capital upgrades and maintenance of our publicly-owned assets. This $14 million overhaul will include the repair and refurbishment of one of the 285-megawatt turbines, corrosion protection painting of machinery and pipes, and repairs to a transformer.

“Wivenhoe is the jewel in the crown of Queensland’s publicly-owned energy storage fleet and maintaining it will be critical to achieving our renewable energy target. That’s why we’ll continue to invest in Wivenhoe and progress plans for pumped hydro at Borumba Dam, with the budget providing $22 million for detailed design and cost analysis of that project.”

CleanCo Chief Executive Officer Dr Maia Schweizer said since taking ownership in 2019, CleanCo has run Wivenhoe more often as part of its portfolio of low-emissions assets.

“We must maintain our generating assets in line with this change in operations to ensure we can continue to meet our mandate to provide reliable, affordable energy for our customers and the Queensland community,” Dr Schweizer said. “The recent incident at Callide Power Station highlighted the important role fast ramping and flexible generation assets like Wivenhoe Power Station play in supplying energy reliably for Queensland. The planned overhaul will support up to 100 jobs as a diversely skilled workforce is required to undertake these works which will involve working at heights and in confined spaces.”

Maintenance works will run from mid-July until late October 2021.

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Elizabeth Ingram is content director for the Hydro Review website and HYDROVISION International. She has more than 17 years of experience with the hydroelectric power industry. Follow her on Twitter @ElizabethIngra4 .

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