Hunter Power Project

Frequently Asked Questions

What is dispatchable energy?

Dispatchable Energy is power supplied into the energy grid that can crank up quickly to fill gaps in supply

Why are there energy gaps and how long do they last?

During peak demand times, like heat waves when many households are running their air conditioners, there can be a few days a year where there are gaps in the electricity supply.

 
What is the duration of the Hunter Power Project – what is its lifespan?

Minimum 25 years, likely 35+ years.

What is the capacity of the power station – how powerful is it?

The power station would be able to produce up to 750MW, using two turbines of the same size and type.

By comparison, the coal-fired Liddell power station when at full capacity was 2000MW, Vales Point is approximately 1300MW, and Snowy Hydro’s Colongra gas-fired power station is approximately 670MW.

The largest solar and wind farms in Australia are at the Western Downs and Coopers Gap in Queensland and are at about 450MW each.

How long is the power station expected to operate each year?

Approval will be sought for the power station to operate up to 12% of the year. However, the expectation is it will operate for a lesser period of time. The site is planned to operate 350 hours a year, to provide quick-generating dispatchable energy.

What is the transmission voltage?

The power station would dispatch electricity into the local Ausgrid transmission lines that are sized at 132kV (kilovolts), which is at the lower end of high voltage transmission.

How much gas will be stored on site?

43 terajoules would be stored in the pipeline, rather than on the power station site. The power station would only require 6.5 hours of storage.

How will the power station use diesel?

Diesel would act a back-up fuel for the power station, so is unlikely to be used often. There would be a period in 2023 where the station would operate using only diesel, but would then revert back to dual use of gas and diesel. Diesel would be stored on site in 2 X 1.75 megalitre tanks within concrete bunds.

Who uses the power? Will the power generation facility be fit for purpose considering the expected population and business growth for the region?

Snowy Hydro currently sells more power to customers than it generates from its own assets. On average, over 100% of its own power is sold to Red Energy and Lumo customers, and even more is sold to commercial and industrial customers.

Along with purchasing power from renewable asset owners, the Hunter Power Project will make Snowy Hydro more self-sufficient in the future to service customers.

How long is the power station expected to operate each year?

Approval will be sought for the power station to operate up to 12% of the year. However, the expectation is it will operate for a lesser period of time. The site is planned to operate 350 hours a year, to provide quick-generating dispatchable energy.

What is the transmission voltage?

The power station would dispatch electricity into the local Ausgrid transmission lines that are sized at 132kV (kilovolts), which is at the lower end of high voltage transmission.

How much gas will be stored on site?

43 terajoules would be stored in the pipeline, rather that on the power station site. The power station would only require 6.5 hours of storage.

How will the power station use diesel?

Diesel would act a back-up fuel for the power station, so is unlikely to be used often. There would be a period in 2023 where the station would operate using only diesel, but would then revert back to dual use of gas and diesel. Diesel would be stored on site in 2 X 1.75 megalitre tanks within concrete bunds.

Who uses the power? Will the power generation facility be fit for purpose considering the expected population and business growth for the region?

Snowy Hydro currently sells more power to customers than it generates from its own assets. On average, over 100% of its own power is sold to Red Energy and Lumo customers, and even more is sold to commercial and industrial customers.

Along with purchasing power from renewable asset owners, the Hunter Power Project will make Snowy Hydro more self-sufficient in the future to service customers. 

Air

Will there be visible plumes from the gas plant stacks?

There would be no visible plumes from the stacks as the emissions during operation would be from the combustion of natural gas and diesel fuel.

The exhaust temperatures would be very high, meaning it would not produce a steam plume similar to that seen at coal-fired power stations.

The Proposal would meet NSW Government requirements for air pollutant concentrations in the exhaust gases.

Will the plume produce an odour?

No. The plume would not be odorous.

How will emissions from the power station be reported and can I access this information?

Emissions monitoring reports will be published each month on the Snowy Hydro website.

Will the power station’s intermittent operations cause higher levels of pollution?

As the power station would only run for 350 hours annually (approximately), it would not create more pollution than if it operated more consistently.

What are the guidelines the station is required to follow?

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) licence has strict reporting requirements that the power station must follow.

Incidents must be reported to the EPA, and formal reporting is published monthly on Snowy Hydro’s website.

Noise

How much noise does the power station make?

The power station’s noise levels are strictly controlled and would be within criteria set by the NSW EPA and NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE).

Whether the power station is heard depends on weather conditions at the time, and other noise in the area such as the motorway. For instance, if a light wind is blowing from the power station to the receiver it is more likely to be heard, if a wind is blowing away from the receiver it is less likely to be heard.

How much noise is expected during construction?

Predicted noise levels during construction would be within the EPA set guidelines. Works will be completed during standard work hours; weekdays, Saturday mornings and some evenings (mainly for delivery of over mass loads).

The predicted noisiest phases of construction are as follows:

  • Earthworks
  • Installing underground services•                 
  • Site surfacing.

What noise mitigation measures would be implemented?

Extensive noise mitigation is part of the power station’s design and includes measures such as muffling in the stack, noise insulating in the housing around the gas turbines, attenuation in air filters and equipment such as motorised pumps.

What are the guidelines the station is required to follow?

Predictions are done as part of the EIS for the whole area surrounding the power station, and predicted emissions are assessed against EPA criteria for residential, commercial and industrial sites.

Noise testing is done at each receiver during commissioning, and requires approval from the EPA and DPIE.

The station would be required to continue adhering to EPA guidelines during its operation.

Health

How is historical contamination on site being addressed?

Prior to any construction, the proposal site is required to be remediated by Hydro Aluminium and the McCloy Group.

Remediation is a condition of Snowy Hydro’s ownership in that they can only exercise their purchase of land once the EPA has signed off on the site.

Are there health impacts?

The Proposal would meet NSW Government requirements for air pollutant concentrations in the exhaust gases. These guidelines are based on health criteria, that is, the pollutants in the emissions are a level that is considered safe for human health.

How are impacts to health monitored and regulated?

The EPA manage air quality by measuring quality and emissions, setting standards, and regulating industries.

Standards set by the EPA are based on scientific studies from all over the world and form the basis of standards, known as “exposures”, which are designed to be able to protect the most vulnerable in our communities i.e., the very young or older people.

Ecology

There are sensitive aquifers in waterway at the rear of the site will they be impacted?

No aquifers are predicted to be impacted.

How do Environmental Offsets work?

The NSW Biodiversity Offsets Scheme is administered by DPIE. The Biodiversity Conservation Trust (BCT) manages the supply of biodiversity credits.

The BCT’s Biodiversity Offsets Program is responsible for securing biodiversity offsets on behalf of development proponents who opt to pay into the Biodiversity Conservation Fund (BCF) to meet NSW state and Commonwealth offset obligations of their development approval.

Developers with an offset obligation can make a payment into the BCF at a price set by the Biodiversity Offsets Payment Calculator. If developers choose to pay into the BCF, the obligation to procure the biodiversity credits transfers to the BCT. This enables developers to proceed with the development while allowing the BCT to bundle credit obligations and secure strategic offset outcomes.

What are biodiversity credits and how do they work?

Biodiversity credits are generated when a landowner commits to protect and enhance the biodiversity values on their land in perpetuity through a Biodiversity Stewardship Agreement.

Biodiversity credits represent the expected improvement in biodiversity that will result from the protection and management of the site.

Biodiversity credits may be sold to developers or the BCT to offset the impacts of development occurring elsewhere. The sale of biodiversity credits generates ongoing, permanent funding for the management of the site at which they were generated. The sale of credits may also return a profit for the landowner.

How will the Proposal affect local wildlife?

The Proposal’s assessments focus on direct impacts to flora and fauna threatened species, but also consider various indirect impacts. The impact on wildlife that fly into the path of the hot plume would be a very localised impact and occur only while the plant is operating.

Any presence of wildlife roosting or nesting at the station will be picked up and addressed during the daily site inspections of the site.

Traffic

What measures would be in place to help reduce impacts of increased traffic movements?

Proposed traffic and traffic noise mitigation measures may include ride sharing by contractors entering and exiting the site, and requirements for heavy machinery to be transported in off-peak times.

Climate

How much greenhouse gas will be emitted?

If the power station operates for about 10% of the year it will emit up to 406,259 tonnes of carbon dioxide. The expected operations are closer to around 2% of the year, which is about 81,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

By comparison, in 2018 the Liddell power station emitted approximately 8.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, and the Vales power station about 6.5 million tonnes.

What are the greenhouse benefits of the Project?

The Project enables renewable energy sources like solar and wind to operate in the National Electricity Market (NEM) by providing dispatchable power that covers the periods when renewables can’t operate. With respect to thermal power stations (coal, diesel, gas etc), the gas-fired technology proposed has the lowest greenhouse emission intensity in the NEM.

Indigenous Heritage

What engagement has been undertaken with local Aboriginal groups?

An assessment of Aboriginal cultural heritage and a significance assessment has been undertaken in consultation with local registered Aboriginal parties (RAPs). The assessment included a number of site visits and surveys. If the Project is approved, representatives from the RAPS and an archaeologist will also be onsite during construction where deep excavation work is required and has the potential to disturb cultural artefacts.  

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