The Western Australian government today announced plans to replace the Kwinana power station with a 240 MW combined-cycle plant to be supplied and installed by French engineering group Alstom.

State Premier, Geoff Gallop, said the Cabinet had approved the project to build the natural gas-fired combined-cycle plant to replace two ageing 120 MW conventional units, which would be ready by December 2003, in time for the 2003/04 summer when electricity demand was highest.

The Kwinana plant, which is situated 38 km south of Perth, is operated by state-owned utility Western Power. Plans are also underway to invite tenders to build a new power plant for Western Power in order to meet the anticipated four per cent increase in electricity demand over the next three years within the region.

Gallop said, “It is important that Western Power maintain a core of reliable and efficient plant to underpin the State’s electricity requirements.”

He said the plant would contribute to Western Power’s objective to reduce its generating costs by 20 per cent over the next five years. This would ensure that electricity prices were held at current levels for another three years.

Staff required to operate and maintain the new plant will be about half the number for the units it will replace. Western Power plans no job losses with staff reductions being addressed by natural attrition, redeployment and retraining. Western Power will finance the project from its own resources.

The combined-cycle operation is expected to improve the efficiency of the plant by 50 per cent by capturing the waste heat from the gas turbine to produce steam and drive a second generator. It should also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two million tonnes a year with less waste heat being discharged into Cockburn Sound.

Alstom Power Limited, which has won the competitive tender to supply and install the plant, is one of the biggest gas turbine makers in the world. Alstom has been involved in supplying plant equipment to Kwinana in the past and with around 100 of these units operating around the world, the project will use proven technology.