Touted to be the most environmentally friendly and super-efficient large-scale gas-fired power plant in Australia, the plant produces 65% less carbon-dioxide emissions than that produced by conventional coal-fired power plants in the country on average.
The power plant was set up with an investment of $275 million and utilizes Alstom GT26 gas turbines for power generation. Construction began in November 2006, and the plant began commercial operation in January 2009. The plant is located south of Wollongong on the site of a former coal-fired power project that was developed in the 1950s but shut down two decades ago.
The power plant will supply electricity to more than 200,000 residential and business establishments across the state of New South Wales. The project is a strategic investment made by TRUenergy, which aims to reduce its carbon emissions by 33% by 2020.
It is the first gas-fired power station developed in the state and is also being referred to as Illawarra's first "green" power station.
TRUenergy had planned to invest an additional $344 million to set up a second power generation unit at the Tallawarra station. This has now been put on hold because of uncertainties in the Australian government's emissions trading plans under the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. Australia's carbon trading system is due to start in mid-2010 and aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5%-15% from 2000 to 2020 by placing a price on carbon pollution. The move will force TRUenergy to shut down its 1,480-MW brown-coal-fired Yallourn power plant, leading to financial impairment in an already adverse market environment. The Yallourn power plant currently caters to 22% of Victoria's and 8% of Australia's power requirements.
In another development, Origin Energy Limited recently announced plans to capture more than 25% of the carbon dioxide emissions from the Lang Lang BassGas gas-fired power plant in Gippsland, Victoria. Origin Energy, on behalf of Australian Worldwide Exploration Limited and CalEnergy Gas Limited, the other two partners in the joint venture, entered into an agreement with Air Liquide to develop a carbon-dioxide recovery unit at an estimated cost of $13.7 million.
The unit is expected to come into operation from 2011.
The recovered gas will be purified, liquefied and reused for commercial purposes such as carbonation of soft drinks, food preservation, freezing, fire fighting, and wine making. The amount of carbon dioxide that would be captured is estimated to be equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of over 4,900 Australian homes or 21,000 cars.