By ERWIN CHLANDA
Territory Generation (TG) did not include “renewables” in the possible mix of energy sources to “generate 44 MW of electricity reliably while ensuring security of supply to the Alice Springs residents”.
It decided to rely solely on gas driven piston engines (not turbines as we previously reported) and build a new $75m power station at Owen Springs.
A spokesman says: “A program definition analysis identified gas fired engines as the preferred option. Solar energy was outside the criteria to deliver the additional generation.”
TG, split off from the Power Water Corporation in 2014, is 100% Territory Government owned.
The spokesman says: “Reliability, efficiency, security of supply and cost of meeting the 55 MW peak demand of Alice Springs were some of the main considerations, along with existing contracts for the supply of gas and dual fuel redundancy, from the Dingo field and the north-south pipeline.”
He says solar power’s continuity of supply is subject to cloud cover and the energy storage technology required for 24 hour supply is still in its early days. Alice Springs has “a high penetration of solar. We’ve currently obtain 4 MW from the Uterne plant and about 13 MW of solar energy of installed capacity from private and government renewable energy facilities”.
The new powerhouse is replacing the town-based Ron Goodin power station which has reached the end of its life.
Asked if the contract has a cancellation clause, Territory Generation said it is a typical business contract, “but we are unable to elaborate as the contents are confidential”.
The spokesman says in its lead-up mid-last year, the project was well advertised, in local and national media, as well as the “NT Government Quotations and Tenders Online” website.
A 225 page report, dated August 4 last year, from Brisbane based Aurecon Australasia Pty Ltd, acting as an adviser, left no doubt that only gas must be used: “Natural gas is the only fuel source that shall be used by the Power Station (with the exception of diesel fuel for the black start / diesel generator),” it says.
“The Power Station shall be a standalone installation and shall not rely on services from the adjacent existing power station except where explicitly defined.”
And again: “The fuel source for the Project is natural gas only sourced from a number of different fields and supplied via pipeline to the Site.
“The new gas engines shall be installed in an engine hall along with the engine auxiliary systems and equipment. Engine radiators shall be installed outside at ground level.”
More than 100 firms attended an information session held by Territory Generation in Darwin mid last year. 19 of them submitted an application and these were narrowed down to three. The successful tenderer was Clarke Energy, an Australia and international wide company.
PHOTOS: Piston engines of the kind to be used. The lay-out of the generator hall is quite similar to that of the Goodin power station, soon to be shut down.
Why solar missed out on $75m electricity contract
By ERWIN CHLANDA