CleanCo was created with the state’s most flexible, responsive generation assets to put downward pressure on prices and support the transition to clean energy in a way that drives regional growth and jobs.
Our foundation assets include the Wivenhoe pumped storage hydro power station, Swanbank E gas power station, and three Far North Queensland hydro stations, including Barron Gorge, Kareeya and Koombooloomba.
Combined, our current portfolio of assets has the capacity to generate 1,120 MW.
Barron Gorge Hydro Power Station
White Water Hydro
Barron Gorge Hydro sits 20km north-west of Cairns, nestled in the rainforest of the Barron Gorge National Park. The power station forms part of the Mareeba Dimbulah water scheme and utilises natural water inflows in the catchment, along with water released from Tinaroo Falls dam. The Kuranda Weir acts as a regulating pool, diverting water from the Barron River underground to the two 33 MW electricity generators, which produce clean energy before releasing the water back into the river in the same pristine condition it entered the power station.
The Barron Gorge Hydro that exists today is the second power station built in the gorge. The original power station, which was in planning as early as 1899 and eventually built in 1932, was the first underground power station in Australia. However, as the demand for power in the region grew, it became apparent that a station with greater capacity was needed. The new power station was commissioned in 1963. Some of the equipment from the original hydro was transferred to the new site and the underground tunnels were boarded up leaving only the ghost of the first Barron Gorge power station behind.
The Djabuganydji Bama are the Traditional Owners of the area known by Djabugay People as Din Din, which includes Barron Gorge National Park. Din Din is an area of high cultural significance for the Djabugay People, a sacred place that has been a part of their storytelling for tens of thousands of years. The world heritage rainforest and spectacular Barron Falls can be seen and enjoyed from various vantage points in the national park. For those looking to get even closer to the action, the Barron Gorge Hydro has long been associated with white water rafting adventures on the Barron River.
In its nearly 60 years, the Barron Gorge Hydro has evolved, withstanding multiple cyclones, monsoons and river floods while continuing to provide reliable clean energy for Queensland. In October 2019, CleanCo Queensland took ownership of the Barron Gorge hydro power station. We’re proud to continue operating this asset as part of our portfolio of clean, dispatchable energy to support a reliable electricity supply for Queensland.
Swanbank E Power Station
Just outside of Ipswich, on the edge of Swanbank Lake, sits our Swanbank E Gas-fired Power Station. Once part of a precinct of coal-fired power stations – Swanbank A, B, C and D – Swanbank E remains the only operating power station on the site. At the time of commissioning, Swanbank E was the most efficient power station in Australia.
What sets Swanbank E apart from its coal-fired predecessors is that it is powered by an Alstom GT26 Gas Turbine, which produces less than half the greenhouse gas emissions. The Alstom GT26 is a single shaft machine where Gas Turbine and Steam Turbine are connected to a single generator. The gas turbine generates up to 240 MW of power and exhaust waste heats through a Heat Recovery Steam Generator (HRSG) which produces steam energy sufficient to generate up to a further 145 MW of power via the steam turbine. To continue to keep our environmental impact minimal, Swanbank E uses recycled water for all of the station’s cooling needs.
The Alstom GT26 was the largest gas turbine in Australia when it was first commissioned in 2002 and broke the world record in 2011 for continuous operation, running for 254 days straight. So, while we are continuing work to minimise any impact to the environment, Swanbank E has certainly made an impact on the history books.
The Swanbank precinct also makes for a scenic day out. The Swanbank rail loop, which was used to supply coal to Swanbank A and B coal fired stations, is now operated by the Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway. You can catch a trip on a beautiful old steam train from the heritage railway station at Swanbank and have a picnic by the lake.
More than just a place for reliable energy generation, in 2013 the decommissioned Swanbank B set the scene for a unique and powerful performance by the Underground Opera Company, performing to an audience of 220 people.
Swanbank E plays a key role in CleanCo’s generating portfolio, enabling us to firm variable renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, and provide reliable and affordable clean and low emission energy to all Queenslanders.
Kareeya and Koombooloomba Hydro Power Stations
The Power of Big WaterThe Tully region in Far North Queensland is the wettest in all of Australia, making it the perfect location for converting water into clean energy. And that’s exactly what our Kareeya and Koombooloomba run-of-river hydro power stations do. Beginning at the Koombooloomba Dam, water flows through Koombooloomba Hydro then to Kareeya Hydro to generate another round of electricity. Once the water’s been used, it’s released back into the Tully River in the same pristine condition as when it entered the power station. CleanCo is committed to meeting the strict environmental standards of this Wet Tropics World Heritage Area which allow us to sustainably use these natural resources to generate renewable energy.
But it’s not only water that powers these sites. It’s the community and rich history behind them that makes Kareeya and Koombooloomba special. In fact, Kareeya Hydro, which takes its name from the indigenous word for ‘big water’, has now been operating for over 60 years. Construction began back in 1950, creating many local jobs. To give these workers and families a local place to call home, Cardstone Village was established in 1955. The village was home to 29 households, a post office and a school, and helped create a strong sense of community around the Kareeya power station. Similarly, Koombooloomba Village was created over at the Dam. It was fondly referred to as ‘Nappy Valley’ by workers and their families thanks to it being a wonderful place to raise children.
The station continued to successfully pump clean electricity to the local area, but it soon became obvious that a more efficient way to transport staff and equipment between Kareeya Hydro and Koombooloomba Dam was needed. As the crow flies, the sites were extremely close, but the dense, rocky terrain meant that travelling between the two took hours by road. So, in 1973, a cable car was built. It was 852 metres long and 472 metres high and is still used today. Visitors to Far North Queensland may recognise similarities between the Kareeya cable car and the Kuranda Skyrail.
In 2000, operations were expanded with the addition of another hydro station at Koombooloomba. Today, with a combined capacity of 95 megawatts, Kareeya and Koombooloomba Hydro continue to produce energy for Queensland, without emitting any greenhouse gases.
On 31 October 2019, CleanCo took ownership of the two hydros which play a key role in CleanCo’s portfolio of clean, dispatchable energy to support a reliable electricity supply for Queensland.
Wivenhoe Pumped Storage Hydro Power Station
Located approximately 50 km west of Brisbane in South East Queensland, Wivenhoe Power Station is the only pumped storage hydroelectric plant in Queensland and can ramp quickly to support a stable electricity supply.
With two 285 MW generators – the largest hydro machines in Australia – Wivenhoe operates like a giant rechargeable battery, with water cycled between Splityard Creek Dam (upper reservoir) and Wivenhoe Dam (lower reservoir).
Electricity is generated through the following steps:
- Water is pumped from Wivenhoe Dam uphill to Splityard Creek Dam and stored there until it is needed.
- To generate electricity, water is pumped from Splityard Creek Dam downhill through tunnels to flow through the
- The rotation of the turbine spins a powerful electromagnet, which creates electricity.
- Electricity is then increased in volts through a transformer and transported from the power station via transmission
- Water is pumped back to Wivenhoe Dam, ready to be used again.
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