A 150 MW boost to South Hedland’s energy supply

South Hedland construction site as of April 2015.

South Hedland construction site as of April 2015.

TransAlta Energy Australia is building on its 20-year history in Australia by developing the 150 MW South Hedland Power Station in Western Australia at an estimated cost of $A570 million.

TransAlta has been operating in Western Australia since 1996, with six facilities totaling 425 MW of generating capacity and a natural gas pipeline in development.

In addition to these assets, which include the 125 MW Solomon Power Station and the 270 km Fortescue River Gas Pipeline with partner DBP Development Group (DDG), TransAlta is aiming to develop the most efficient combined-cycle power plant in the region, with its 150 MW South Hedland Power Station in north-west Western Australia.

Bulk earthwork on the station was completed by early-2015, with civil work commencing in the second half of May. Major equipment is due to start arriving on site in November 2015, aiming for commissioning in 2017.


The power station is being developed by TransAlta to supply power to Horizon Power to meet future power needs for the region. The power station is also contracted by Fortescue Metals Group to supply its port operations at Port Hedland.

The development has been fully contracted under 25-year power purchase agreements with Horizon Power and Fortescue, and may be expanded to accommodate additional customers at later dates.

Meanwhile, customers will carry the responsibility to supply gas to the power station, with gas to be sourced in WA and delivered to the power station by a lateral off of APA Group’s Pilbara Energy Pipeline (PEP).

The connection to the PEP was established and in-place as part of the work Horizon Power did to construct the temporary power station on the site, and was completed before the start of TransAlta’s work on site.


While the station is fully contracted, it has been designed with expansion in mind. TransAlta is hopeful that one day it can expand the power station to serve the increased load of one of its existing customers, or for a new customer.

The company has also retained the ability within the design to add generating capacity at the site and will have several options for that added capacity.

The plant is designed around the latest technology of GE turbines, including two combined cycle LM6000 gas turbines along with one in simple cycle mode.

The design also utilises an air-cooled condenser to substantially reduce water consumption compared to other available technologies.

The power station will be one of the first combined-cycle power stations in the Pilbara utilising waste heat from the gas turbines to create steam and then, subsequently, using that steam to generate additional electricity.

The plant itself uses the latest technology of GE LM6000 gas turbines – highly efficient turbines with low NOx emissions.


IHI Engineering Australia has been contracted for engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) on the project.

Additionally, Jacobs Engineering have been contracted to provide detailed scoping reviews and design oversight as well as technical, safety and project management resources during the construction of
the facility.

These contractors, particularly IHI, will be letting contracts to several other subcontractors over the duration of its power station project.


While the Australian oil and gas industry has been beset by concern over volatile oil prices, TransAlta does not see this as having an impact on the development of the project.

The company has stated that in light of falling oil prices, customers will have access to cheaper fuel for their delivery to the power station, if gas prices fall in parallel with oil prices.

Overall, aside from a relatively tight timeline in which to negotiate and execute all of the required commercial agreements, no significant challenges have been encountered by the project, and it remains on schedule to enter commissioning in 2017.

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