AGL is investing $295 million to develop a 210 MW reciprocating engine power station to be known as Barker Inlet Power Station, near Adelaide in South Australia.

Development

In July 2017, AGL announced it would invest $295 million to develop a 210 MW reciprocating engine power station, to be known as the Barker Inlet Power Station, alongside the company’s Torrens Island Power Station site near Adelaide, South Australia.

The Barker Inlet Power Station will comprise 12 reciprocating engines capable of generating approximately 18 MW of output each and operating at high efficiency, with a lower heat rate, than other forms of fast-start plants currently available. The Barker Inlet Power Station would be capable of operating at full capacity within five minutes of start, providing a rapid response to changes in renewable generation supply.

Construction of Barker Inlet Power Station is anticipated to commence in the new year before achieving full operation in the middle of the 2019 calendar year.

Location

The proposed Barker Inlet Power Station will be located on Torrens Island, alongside the AGL Torrens Island Power Station site 18km from Adelaide’s CBD.

Investment in South Australia

The Barker Inlet Power Station will replace two of the four Torrens A turbines, which AGL will progressively mothball from 1 September 2019. The four Torrens B turbines will continue to operate as normal.

As Torrens A is now 50 years old, AGL’s decision in June 2016 to defer its previously planned mothballing reflected the importance of maintaining security of supply in South Australia following the withdrawal at short notice of other thermal power stations.

AGL’s decision to move ahead with this development reflects our long-standing commitment to our South Australian customers as Australia’s electricity market adapts to a carbon-constrained future and our contribution to creating a secure energy system as the market transitions. AGL will continue its commitment to improving reliability and security of supply in South Australia using modern, responsive technology that is more fuel efficient and less carbon intensive than pre-existing plant.

Public notification phase

Public notification of the Barker Inlet Power Station has commenced concludes on 29 November. Anyone wishing to make a representation can do so via the State Commission Assessment Panel.

FAQs

Why is AGL building a new power station on Torrens Island?

Barker Inlet Power Station will replace ageing generation capacity in the Torrens Island Power Station A Station, which will be progressively mothballed commencing in September 2019. Barker Inlet Power Station will utilise twelve reciprocating engine generators to deliver efficient, fast start-up and flexible operations. This type of generator driver is better placed to react to the variability observed in the South Australian electricity market. The new configuration would also have the option of diesel firing which will replace the current fuel oil firing capacity at the Torrens Island B Station. The proposed power station is to be built on land owned by AGL and will play a critical role in securing South Australia’s energy supplies for the future.

How does the new technology work?

Reciprocating engines are currently used for power generation projects across the world. They are typically used to support variable dispatch power generation, such as solar and wind farms. Here’s an overview of why AGL has chosen this technology:

  • 12 individual units (18 MW) operating as a single dispatchable power station
  • Smaller network capacity step changes when starting and stopping generation units
  • Faster start times; nominally 5 minutes from stopped to full load
  • Higher thermal efficiency; uses 20-30% less fuel than gas turbines and so produces less greenhouse gases per unit of electricity generated
  • Reduced waste water production
  • Diesel fuel capability to allow alternative fuel when gas prices peak beyond diesel pricing

Changes in the gas supply market across Australia has led to increased gas prices and constrained supply. To ensure operational flexibility, particularly at time of high demand, these reciprocating engines will be capable of firing both natural gas and distillate fuel. Natural gas will be the predominant fuel. Dual fuel engines have the ability to use a backup liquid fuel when gas supply is constrained. The diesel fuel used in the reciprocating engines will be standard low sulphur automotive distillate.

What impact will Barker Inlet Power Station have on the local environment?

The Barker Inlet Power Station project will be 28% more fuel efficient and the greenhouse gas emissions of our operations will reduce by approximately 35-50% once the new plant is commissioned.

When the Barker Inlet Power Station has achieved commercial operation, the existing fuel oil firing capability at the B Station will then be taken out of service. The use of cleaner diesel together with catalytic reduction units will result in a significantly better environmental outcome on the rare occasions when liquid fuel is used, with emissions controlled to be within the limits set out in the Environment Protection (Air Quality) Policy 2016. A related benefit will be a reduction in the liquid fuel storage volumes on Torrens Island from the current capacity of 16,000 tonnes to around 1,500 tonnes.

Torrens Island Power Station currently discharges process cooling water and stormwater to the local environment, which must be 5 to 10°C above the inlet temperature. Barker Inlet Power Station will be air cooled, meaning that no less cooling water will be discharged into the Central Barker Inlet.

Barker Inlet Power Station will be built adjacent to the Torrens Island Power Station B Station, ensuring that the development does not impact the Torrens Island Conservation Park.

How much will it cost to build Barker Inlet Power Station?

AGL will invest $295 million in the construction of Barker Inlet Power Station.

How many jobs will be created by the project?

AGL estimates that 200 new jobs will be created during the construction of Barker Inlet Power Station over 18 months, with more employment opportunities expected through the local supply chain.

What are the next steps?

We have in-principle support from the State Government to proceed and are now working thorough a technical regulatory assessment. Following this phase, we anticipate that construction will start early next year and the plant will be operational by the middle of 2019.

How will building Barker Inlet Power Station affect electricity prices?

The market we’re operating in has gone through significant changes due to multiple factors including the sudden exit of coal fired power stations which has created a tighter supply/demand balance and increased gas costs due to steep changes in gas demand associated with LNG export in Queensland.

This investment demonstrates AGL’s support for an orderly transition to a carbon-constrained future to avoid dramatic price spikes that the market saw with the unanticipated and sudden exit of Northern and Hazelwood power stations. We believe that increasing supply of generation into the market will ultimately put downward pressure on prices.

We always encourage customers to shop around for the best deal for them. To compare energy deals customers can visit the Australian government website.