ATCO Power has begun construction on the Karratha Power Station – the third power project for the company in Australia and its 20th worldwide.
The company said that rapid growth in the Pilbara region, particularly from the resource sector and the communities of Karratha and Port Hedland, has created an unprecedented demand for power.
ATCO noted that comparatively, Western Australia appears to be relatively unscathed in the middle of a worldwide recession, stating that – in the midst of ancient red rock and vastness – there is a boom that just won’t go bust.
“For ATCO, Western Australia represents opportunity,” said President Rick Brouwer. “In spite of challenging economic times in many parts of this world, we see Western Australia as an area of growth.”Article continues below…
ATCO’s new Karratha Power Station will be built to an initial capacity of 86 megawatts (MW) but will be designed to allow for expansion to meet the growing needs of the region.
“With the increasing energy demands of energy consumers in the Pilbara, the Karratha Power Station will play a vital role in maintaining a secure and reliable power system,” said Mr Brouwer.
The power station will be constructed, owned, and operated by ATCO and will supply electricity to residential and business consumers on the Pilbara Northwest Interconnect System (NWIS) under a long term contract with Horizon Power. It will be located adjacent to Horizon’s 132 kilovolt substation giving it a direct link into the local network. Energy efficiency
The new power station will be the most efficient gas-powered station in the NWIS of Western Australia.
Comprising two 43 MW high-efficiency GE gas turbines, the station can be augmented with a heat recovery steam generator (HRSG) that will generate electricity from waste heat. The HRSG will enable the plant to generate approximately one-third more electricity for the same amount of fuel.
The new station will use approximately 35 per cent less gas to generate the same amount of electricity. This will result in less greenhouse gas emissions per kilowatt hour sold. With 35 per cent less gas used, 35 per cent less carbon dioxide will be emitted. At the same time, with the advanced technology being installed, other pollutants such as nitrous oxide and sulphur oxide will be even further reduced.
Mr Brouwer said pollution prevention, energy efficiency and waste minimisation are integral components of an ATCO power plant.
“We currently own and operate a 180 MW cogeneration station in Adelaide and a 33 MW cogeneration station in Brisbane. Both of those stations provide environmentally friendly power to support businesses and consumers in their respective areas.”
First sod was turned during a ceremony for construction start-up in March. Western Australian Energy Minister Peter Collier attended and was positive about the plant’s long term benefits.
“It not only creates employment opportunities for the construction workforce, but long term it will make a significant contribution to the local community,” Mr Collier said.
Since then, the site has been completely cleared and the foundation installation has begun.
Mr Brouwer said “We expect the first turbine will be installed in July and the second in October. If all goes according to plan, the power station will be connected to the network in December and the system will be tested for operation in February.”
Gas will be supplied to the power station via a new lateral pipeline connected to the Pilbara Energy Pipeline. Epic Energy will build, own and operate the gas lateral pipeline that will connect to the power station.
ATCO has said that the challenges associated with the construction of the plant are typical of the region, where hot weather and cyclones are the norm, Mr Brouwer said that ATCO plans to implement a detailed health, safety and the environment (HSE) plan in order to stay abreast of challenges as they arise.
“HSE considerations are integrated in all ATCO Power business, construction and operational decisions to ensure employees and contractors act in a safe and responsible manner with minimal impact on the environment,” he said.
The first power from the Karratha Power Station will be produced by February 2010 with the station operating at full capacity in April 2010. Construction works have commenced on ATCO Power’s Karratha Power Station.