Gas generating interest in NSW

Tallawarra Power Station emissions stack.

Tallawarra Power Station emissions stack.

Gas-fired power generation in New South Wales could grow significantly in the not-too-distant future. Gas Today looks at the state’s current and potential gas generation assets.

It’s an eventful time for gas-fired power generation in New South Wales.

The State Government is in the process of partially privatising its energy sector. Although it will maintain public ownership of existing power stations and electricity transmission and distribution networks, electricity trading rights and state-owned power station development sites will be privatised. Bids for these trading rights are due by 15 November 2010.

At the same time, activity is ramping up in New South Wales’ coal seam gas (CSG) industry. These new CSG developments could mean that New South Wales becomes self-sufficient in natural gas supply or even becomes a net gas exporter.

A report published in August 2010 by Access Economics for the New South Wales Innovation Council states “Gas-fired generation, potentially fuelled by CSG, will be crucial to meet base load electricity requirements to 2020.”

Competition in the New South Wales electricity market is set to increase, domestic gas supplies are increasing, electricity supplies need to be amplified and investment in greener energy sources could soon become significantly more attractive. These factors add up to considerable potential for gas-fired generation in the state.

Current capacity

There are six operating large-scale gas-fired power stations in New South Wales with a combined capacity of 2,103.6 megawatts (MW).

The largest at 724 MW is Delta Electricity’s Colongra Gas Turbine, which opened in December 2009. This runs in open-cycle configuration, as does the next biggest station, Origin Energy’s Uranquinty Power Station, which has a capacity of 664 MW.

TRUenergy’s combined-cycle 460 MW Tallawarra Power Station is located in Yallah. Marubeni Australia operates the 160 MW Smithfield Power Facility, a steam turbine that runs on a combination of natural gas and waste heat.

Energy Developments owns and operates the two smallest turbines in the state, the Appin Mine and Tower Mine Power stations, at 55.6 and 40 MW respectively.

Next generation

These six stations could grow to twenty if all publicly-announced proposals for gas-fired power stations go ahead. Along with private developments, a total of seven power station development sites are being sold as part of New South Wales’ energy reform process.

The sites are being sold individually, concurrently to the sale of trading rights for existing power generation assets, which are being sold in bundles.

The largest proposed new developments are Macquarie Generation’s Bayswater B Power Station and the installation of two new units at Delta Electricity’s Mount Piper Power Station. Both developments are proposed to have a capacity of 2,000 MW. Development approval for both stations is being sought for either black coal or gas-fired power generation. This would allow parties acquiring the assets under the privatisation process to develop the stations using whichever fuel is preferred.

The next largest station is AGL’s Dalton Power Station, an open-cycle power station that could eventually have a capacity of up to 1,160 MW. Although it does not have development approval as yet, AGL is progressing permit options. The station is expected to be commissioned in the last quarter of 2013.

Eastern Star Gas’ Wilga Park ‘A’ and Wilga Park ‘B’ Power Stations, at 3 MW and 29.4 MW respectively, are the nearest to commissioning, which will take place from the second quarter of 2011 through to the fourth.

Conclusion

With the energy reform transactions intended to be executed before the end of 2010, the New South Wales energy sector is under close scrutiny. Gas-fired generation has emerged as an attractive option as the state’s generation mix changes and expands.

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