In order to prepare Queensland’s electricity network for the significant power use increase expected during the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, Powerlink’s Mudgeeraba Substation is receiving a $25 million overhaul including isolator replacements and a new transformer.

The recent 2016 Olympic Games in Rio has highlighted the scrutiny that host cities of major sporting events experience, as the world watches and judges whether they have done the event justice.

To make sure the upcoming Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games runs smoothly and impresses a global audience of 1.5 billion, the Queensland Government is investing in the city’s electric grid infrastructure.

As one of the main power supply hubs on the Gold Coast, Powerlink’s Mudgeeraba Substation was chosen to be upgraded in order to improve the reliability of the city’s transmission network. Condition assessments of the plant were undertaken with several pieces of equipment identified as near the end of their useful life.

Queensland Minister for Energy, Mark Bailey, said the upgrade is the lowest cost option for consumers to extend the life of the substation.

“Rather than undertake a major replacement, Powerlink will upgrade specific parts to further extend the life of the existing substation. This investment approach is focused on keeping long-run transmission costs as low as possible,” Mr Bailey said.

Works to the substation include selective VT, CT and isolator replacements throughout the 110kV yard and the replacement of two feeder bays (apart from bus isolators).

There will also be upgrades to selected aging bay secondary systems employing IEC 61850 technology standards. This will require the installation of a new small control building to house the associated panels, telecommunications and battery systems.

The upgrade will also see a new 250MVA transformer replace the current aging transformer which is now over 40 years old. While in the existing control building, new battery banks and selective 125VDC and 50VDC rewiring work will be undertaken. The entire upgrade is expected to create around 50 local jobs.

Managing temporary load increases

The Queensland Government is investing $25 million to improve the Gold Coast's transmission network.

The Queensland Government is investing $25 million to improve the Gold Coast’s transmission network.

During the Commonwealth Games in 2018, power load is expected to significantly increase then reduce again after the event. Rather than investing in temporary infrastructure upgrades to manage the increased demand, the Mudgeeraba Substation upgrades are designed to improve the long-term outcomes of the network, in addition to during the games.

Powerlink has identified that the capacity the network deals with for normal summer peak loads will be sufficient to cope with the higher load during the games. The upgrade will therefore ensure the equipment is in the best condition to deal with this peak demand.

Looking further into the future, Powerlink has also identified that there may be an opportunity to rationalise this site to a two transformer configuration based on longer-term load growth projections.

After the Commonwealth Games, the remaining original 250MVA transformer will be considered for replacement or decommissioning, with Powerlink to undertake an external consultation with all impacted stakeholders.

Continuing improvements

Workers at Powerlink's Mudgeeraba substation.

Workers at Powerlink’s Mudgeeraba substation.

Work on Mudgeeraba Substation has been ongoing since the 1970s, with feeder bays installed in 1981 and 2001, capacitor bank bays added in 1989 and 1994, and work on the transformer/bay undertaken in 1991 and 2007.

Powerlink Queensland Chief Executive, Merryn York, said substation system designs and standards have changed significantly since the early 1970s and will continue to improve in the future.

“We want to play our part in GC2018, so the focus of the work will be on replacing the systems which allow us to better manage our network in this region,” Ms York said.

“These systems are critical to operating and monitoring our assets and responding rapidly to any unexpected issues that may arise.”

Work on Powerlink’s Mudgeeraba Substation began in June 2016 and is expected to be complete by early 2017, prior to the start of the Commonwealth Games on 4 April 2018. 

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