The influx of utility-scale renewables and rooftop solar means there’s a greater need for highly flexible firming energy sources which can be activated at a moment’s notice during times of high demand.

The Barker Inlet Power Station (or BIPS) is nearing the final stages of construction, and it exemplifies this firming capacity. The gas-fired power station, located on Torrens Island in Adelaide’s north-western suburbs, uses modern technology and multiple small units capable of operating at full capacity within five minutes.

BIPS provides around 210 MW of firming capacity to the grid through 12 reciprocating engines, each of which produce approximately 18 MW each from either gas or liquid fuel.

Modern technology for a modern age

The development of BIPS will be finalised later in 2019, in line with the mothballing of four turbines at AGL’s Torrens A generation site. These turbines were commissioned in 1967 and are now more than 50 years old. Torrens A turbines A2 and A4 will be mothballed by March 2020; turbine A1 by November 2020; and turbine A3 by November 2021.

As well as the speed and reliability BIPS will provide, it is much more efficient, requiring 28% less fuel than the Torrens A plant. It’s also much cleaner than the Torrens A plant, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by around 35-50%.

BIPS’ development began in June 2017; the 18-month construction phase has created around 200 jobs. The site will be maintained by the existing AGL workforce at Torrens Island.

AGL currently employs more than 465 people across South Australia, both at our power generation sites (at Torrens Island; Hallett Wind Farm, approximately 200km north of Adelaide; and Wattle Point Wind Farm, on the Yorke Peninsula) and at our contact centre and Eastwood office.


Firming capacity into the future

BIPS is part of AGL’s broader investment in firming capacity across Australia for a more reliable supply into the future. Of these projects, close to 1,000 MW of supply will provide some of the firming support that the National Electricity Market needs.

In total, AGL has about $1.9b of new energy supply projects completed or in construction, with a further $2b in the pipeline. These projects include:

  • Kanmantoo Pumped Hydro: taking advantage of the Kanmantoo copper mine pit in the Adelaide Hills, this proposed project, currently undergoing a feasibility assessment for a 250 MW pumped hydro energy storage project.
  • Bells Mountain Pumped Hydro: AGL and Idemitsu have signed an agreement to undertake an engineering feasibility study for AGL’s proposed 250 MW pumped hydro project at Bells Mountain, near Muswellbrook.
  • Newcastle Power Station: Construction of the proposed 252 MW power station is expected to begin by the end of 2020 (subject to a positive Final Investment Decision), with the aim to deliver the power station by the end of 2022.
  • Dalrymple Battery: the 30 MW ESCRI battery on SA’s Yorke Peninsula offers millisecond-response to stabilise and support the power grid – especially in times of crisis.
  • Maoneng Batteries: AGL and Maoneng have signed a 15-year agreement whereby AGL has agreed to energy at a fixed price from four 50-100 MW batteries across NSW, providing flexibility and stability to the grid.

We have a proud heritage as Australia's largest ASX-listed developer of renewable energy assets, and we are well placed to be the biggest developer of the firming capacity we need to support that energy. This will help us to meet community expectations and deliver reliable and affordable firming capacity to support the renewable power in our energy mix.

  • 210 MW quick-start firming capacity power station on Torrens Island in South Australia.
  • Comprises 12 reciprocating engines which generate approximately 18 MW each from gas or liquid fuel.
  • The units can operate at full capacity within five minutes of start-up, providing rapid response to changes in renewable generation supply and demand.
  • Using modern and efficient technology, BIPS will use 28% less fuel and produce 35-50% less greenhouse gas emissions than the existing Torrens A plant.

Update: in February 2020, AGL and Hillgrove Resources Limited, which owns the Kanmantoo site, mutually agreed to not continue with the proposed pumped hydro project. However, AGL remains committed to continuing the development of energy storage projects such as batteries and pumped hydro to providing firming capacity to the market. 

These projects include a 100 MW battery in Wandoan, Queensland, a 30 MW battery in South Australia, and four 50 MW batteries to be built in NSW. We are also investigating the feasibility of a 250 MW pumped hydro plant at Bells Mountain in NSW, and a 50 MW battery at Broken Hill.