22/06/2004 - 22:00

Movement on the stations

22/06/2004 - 22:00

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At least 10 new power stations are likely to be built in Western Australia over coming years to cope with growing electricity demand and the retirement of existing units.

Movement on the stations

Movement on the stations

 

At least 10 new power stations are likely to be built in Western Australia over coming years to cope with growing electricity demand and the retirement of existing units.

This prospect means that Western Power’s much-debated power procurement process is just one element in meeting WA’s future energy requirements.

Private sector companies such as Alinta and Griffin Group are aiming to fill the gap by building their own power stations.

Griffin Group executive general manager power generation, Wayne Trumble, says WA will need 1,400 megawatts of new power generation capacity by 2013.

This is based on projected growth in energy consumption over the next decade and the expected retirement of three Western Power units with a combined capacity of 720MW.

Western Power chief executive Harvey Collins said the utility was currently reviewing the timing of future retirements.

The first units to be retired would be either Muja AB, which was commissioned in 1965, making it the State’s oldest power station, or Kwinana B.

That would be followed by the Kwinana A plant.

Work is already under way on two new gas-fired power stations in the State’s South West.

Alinta is building a 140MW co-generation plant at Alcoa’s Pinjarra alumina refinery.

Output from the plant, due for completion in mid 2005, will be marketed direct to Alinta’s own customers as it continues its push into the electricity market.

Transfield Services is building a 240MW peak-load power station at Kemerton, near Bunbury.

It was selected last year by Western Power to build, own and operate the $260 million plant, which is due for completion in October 2005.

While these two projects have been proceeding relatively smoothly, the process of procuring WA’s next base-load power station  is more than a year behind the original schedule.

Western Power announced earlier this month that it had invited seven groups to submit indicative bids for a new 300MW to 330 MW base-load power station.

Western Power will pare down the proponents to a short list later this year and will make a final decision by September 2005, leaving just over three years for construction.

The seven proponents include the State’s two big coal miners.

Wesfarmers, owner of Premier Coal, has teamed up with J-Power, Japan’s largest power generation company.

Premier Coal managing director Stuart Butel said the group would use the latest generation technology and would benefit from Wesfarmers’ strength and presence in WA.

Ric Stowe’s Griffin Group, owner of Griffin Coal, also has a Japanese partner with the latest technology, in Mitsui & Co.

A third group, engineering company John Holland, intends developing a coal-fired plant but has not finalised its plans.

The other bidders include Canadian company Transalta Energy, which already has substantial operations in the Goldfields.

It owns Southern Cross Energy, which has total capacity of 225MW, and 50 per cent of the gas-fired Parkeston power station, with capacity of 110W.

Investment bank Babcock & Brown and environmental consulting group ERM have formed a joint venture to bid for the project.

The two final bidders are Transfield and Singapore company SembCorp Utilities.

Apart from the power procurement process, three other substantial new power stations are advanced in their planning

This includes a couple of major new wind farms, in the Mid-West, south of Geraldton.

Griffin is planning to develop an 80MW wind farm in partnership with Queensland government-owned Stanwell Corporation, supported in part by Western Power’s planned purchase of 90,000 renewable energy certificates.

A slightly larger 90MW wind farm, costing about $200 million, is proposed by a consortium comprising WA-based Carbon Solutions, Babcock & Brown and US utility National Power.

The consortium leapt a major hurdle in March when it signed a power purchase agreement with Alinta, giving it a market for all of its output.

The wind farm proposals need to cross two regulatory hurdles before they are able to proceed to financial close and the 12-month construction phase. First, they need to finalise arrangements for linking to Western Power’s network.

Second, they are waiting for the State Government to finalise its ‘top up and spill’ market rules, which accommodate the fluctuating output of renewable energy producers. 

Yet another power station at an advanced stage is Griffin’s 200MW Bluewaters plant at Collie.

Griffin aims to have the $130 million coal-fired plant commissioned and operational by December 2007, subject to clearing the protracted environmental review process.

Its proposal is to supply power and steam to industrial projects in the planned Coolangatta industrial estate, which Griffin is hoping to develop near Collie, with any surplus power sold into the network.

The Bluewaters project gives Griffin added flexibility in its bidding for the base-load power station.

Mr Trumble said Griffin was likely to put forward two alternatives, involving construction of either a 300MW power station adjacent to Western Power’s existing Collie A plant or a second 200MW unit at Bluewaters.

Mr Trumble said Griffin would ultimately like to build three 200MW units at Bluewaters, giving it a total capacity of 600MW.

Alinta’s aspirations in the electricity market extend well beyond the single co-generation plant currently under construction and the power purchase agreement with Renewable Power Ventures’ wind farm.

It would like to build additional co-generation units at Alcoa’s alumina refineries, but that is dependent on the capacity of the DBNGP increasing.

Mr Collins said it was possible Western Power may proceed with its 240MW Cockburn 2 power station.

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