Tamar Valley plant commissioned

Construction of Tasmania’s newest power generation plant – the gas-powered Tamar Valley power station – was commissioned in October. It was built on time with the total cost of the plant finishing under the original $451 million budget.

The new power station will play a critical role in underpinning Tasmania’s energy security and diversity, relieving drought-related pressures on the state’s hydro-electric dams and optimising the economic benefits of the Tasmanaian Gas Pipeline and Basslink electricity cable under Bass Strait.

Aurora Energy (Tamar Valley) Pty Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Aurora Energy is the owner and operator of the plant, located five kilometres south of George Town in the state’s largest heavy industrial precinct.

The plant which contains Tasmania’s largest single power-generating unit, the combined cycle gas turbine – has started generating into the National Energy market. It was officially opened by Tasmanian Premier the Hon David Bartlett.

Aurora Energy CEO, Dr Peter Davis said the completion of the power station was a key element in Aurora’s transition to a vertically integrated energy company.

“Completion of the Tamar Valley power station is not only great news for Aurora, but for the people of Tasmania,” Dr Davis said.

“This power station will play a critical role in providing our energy security in line with Aurora’s purpose to see the Tasmanian community prosper.

“The power station output represents about 14 per cent of Tasmania’s total generation capacity and its combined cycle unit is the single largest generating plant in the State.

The Tamar Valley power station is capable of producing 390 MW of electricity, comprising three generating units – a 210 MW Mitsubishi combined cycle unit, a 60 MW Rolls Royce open cycle gas turbine and three Pratt and Whitney 40 MW gas turbines.

The Mitsubishi unit is a base-load generator, while the open cycle Rolls Royce and Pratt and Whitney generators are capable of providing back-up to the Mitsubishi unit as well as offering peaking capacity into the market.

The power station features low emission, efficient gas turbine technology using gas sourced through the Tasmanian gas pipeline from Victoria, thereby reducing the state’s reliance on brown coal generated electricity from the mainland via the Basslink cable and helping to minimise the stress on Tasmanian hydro dam levels.

Construction was completed in August 2009 after about 24 months, with up to 340 workers on site.

Dr Davis said the environmental benefits of the power station are particularly satisfying, with natural gas the lowest carbon emitter of all fossil fuels.

“This plant is much more efficient than the recently shut down Bell Bay thermal power station and produces significantly lower emissions than a Victorian coal-fired power station,” Dr Davis said.

“In terms of warm water discharges and noise emissions, the new power station will be significant improvement on the thermal power station and particulate emissions will be negligible.”

The power station project was announced in October 2006 following agreement between Alinta Energy and Aurora Energy on a major purchase contract.