Work has begun to upgrade Queensland’s only pumped storage hydroelectric plant, to ensure its continues operating at peak condition in the future.

CS Energy will overhaul its 500 megawatt Wivenhoe Power Station, consisting of two 250 megawatt units that are the largest hydro machines in Australia, which each have almost 1,500 tonnes spinning when in operation.

The power station is located near Esk in South East Queensland and the $13.5 million upgrade will take place from August 2016 to give the station a tune-up.

The major overhaul contractors are Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems, Crown Engineering, McElligotts Painting and Berg Engineering.

Queensland Energy and Water Supply Minister Mark Bailey said CS Energy would be carrying out the overhaul on one of the two generating units which is located on the eastern side of Wivenhoe Dam.

“The upcoming overhaul will have a peak workforce of 100 people on site, which comprises Wivenhoe’s permanent workforce of 11 and approximately 90 contractors,” Mr Bailey said.

“This work will also provide a flow on of economic benefits to accommodation, services and other businesses in the local communities surrounding the power station.”

Mr Bailey said Wivenhoe Power Station had provided quick-start capacity to the national electricity grid since 1984 and had an expected life of 100 years.

“Wivenhoe Power Station stores and generates electricity by recycling water between an upper and lower reservoir,” Mr Bailey said.

“The power station is able to store energy by holding water in the upper reservoir until it is needed to generate electricity.

“During high demand periods, the stored water is released through tunnels to drive the turbines and generators.”

The stations upper reservoir, Splityard Creek Dam, has a capacity of 23,300 megalitres, which is enough to run the power station for up to ten hours at full load.

Mr Bailey said he was impressed with Wivenhoe’s energy storage capabilities and water efficiency.

“Wivenhoe is very water efficient because it recycles water, compared to conventional hydroelectric power stations, which rely on water released from dams or rivers,” Mr Bailey said.

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