Mt Piper Power Station near Lithgow, NSW, is set to expand its capacity by 60MW with EnergyAustralia investing more than $80 million for operational upgrades to two turbines.
The project, scheduled to be completed in 2020 and 2021, would allow each unit to provide 30MW of additional power without having to burn more coal, supplying enough electricity to power an additional 55,000 homes.
EnergyAustralia Managing Director, Catherine Tanna, said the work involved replacing the majority of the internal components in the plant’s two 700MW capacity turbines.
“Last year the community celebrated 25 years of Mt Piper providing reliable power to homes and businesses across New South Wales,” Ms Tanna said.
“Now we’re investing $80 million to help make sure the plant is around for another quarter century, and it’s as efficient as it can possibly be.
“The upgrade means Mt Piper will be able to power an additional 55,000 homes without burning a single, additional lump of coal.”
Mt Piper’s nameplate generation capacity of 1400MW is enough to supply 15 per cent of New South Wales’ electricity demand. It also supports system stability and complements intermittent forms of electricity like wind and solar as these new sources of power are integrated into a modern energy system.
“This is an incredibly important energy asset for New South Wales and the local Lithgow community so we are doing everything in our power to ensure it continues to operate in the most efficient and environmentally friendly way,” Ms Tanna said.
The power station currently provides direct and in-direct jobs for around 250 people and contributes around $40 million each year to the local economy.
The turbine upgrades will increase economic activity in the Lithgow region during the upgrades, with around 100 workers expected to contribute to the project.
With the closure of the Liddell Power Station expected in 2022, this is one of many investments that will be needed to replace it.
“For EnergyAustralia and other companies, competing to replace Liddell is a big opportunity, one we’re looking forward to. We think the answer lies in a mix of renewables, gas, coal and transmission upgrades,” Ms Tanna said.
“A modern energy system, with a diversity of supply, will strengthen energy security, while providing clean and affordable power to New South Wales.”
Toshiba International Corporation, the Australian subsidiary of Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions Corporation, which has extensive international experience with energy technology, has been selected to carry out the upgrade works.
Director and Senior Vice President of the Power Systems Division at Toshiba, Takao Konishi, said, “We are proud to be part of this project that will provide greater reliability in power supply. We will continue to contribute to supplying a clean and reliable source of power for New South Wales by providing our advanced technology and excellent performance of our works.”
The turbine upgrades are just one of the ongoing investments EnergyAustralia is making to secure the long-term future of Mt Piper.
The company, in partnership with Centennial Coal, is also investing in a new $200 million water treatment facility to treat mine water from the Springvale coal mine and enable its industrial re-use in the cooling system of Mount Piper.
Long-term sustainable operation of the power station will deliver environmental benefits to the local rivers and waterways.