The Somerset Hydro-Electric Plant in South East Queensland will be restored and upgraded, increasing the state’s ability to produce electricity from renewable sources.  

Queensland Energy and Water Supply Minister, Mark Bailey, said once refurbished, the plant would generate electricity from the regulated flow of water from Somerset Dam into Wivenhoe Dam.

“The plant, which first generated power in 1954, has not been operational since it was inundated by the January 2011 floods,” Mr Bailey said.

“A comprehensive study was undertaken post-flood which identified a rebuild of the plant as the best option for its future. The plant will be restored to virtually as-new condition, including automatic control with remote interface.

“Key innovations have been provided through the use of 3D Computational Fluid Dynamics to maximise power output and efficiency gains from the refurbished plant. This means a far more effective and efficient plant.”

Hydropower plants capture the energy of falling water to generate electricity. A turbine converts the kinetic energy of falling water into mechanical energy. Then a generator converts the mechanical energy from the turbine into electrical energy.

Mr Bailey said the $11.6 million restoration, once completed, would increase the capacity of the plant from 3.2 to 4.1MW, adding to Queensland’s renewable energy generation.

“Hydro-electricity is the second largest source of large-scale renewable energy in Queensland, with over 200MW of installed capacity,” Mr Bailey said.

“Hydro-electric generators provide a reliable source of power that can be dispatched when required.

“Somerset Dam will remain one of the region’s major drinking water storages with the added benefit of being able to produce green energy for South East Queensland.”

Acting Seqwater Chief Executive Officer, Jim Pruss, said the hydro-electric plant would be able to operate up to 24 hours a day as required.

“The operation of the plant will be based on dam levels, rainfall and potential inflows into the dams which Seqwater closely monitors,” Mr Pruss said.

“The original turbine casing that was installed in 1954 will be retained within the refurbished plant.

“The refurbishment works will include the redesign of the original turbine for increased output and efficiency, and installation of a new generator and control system to provide reliability and remote operation.

“This project is yet another step in the Palaszczuk Government managing the transition to a clean energy future and 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 in Queensland.”

The refurbished plant is expected to be operational in the first half of 2017.
 

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