May 10, 2019
Stanwell had some good news and some bad news at its community update held at Tarong Power Station on Wednesday morning.
The bad news was the impending loss of jobs at Meandu Mine (see separate report) but the good news included the hiring of seven young people as apprentices or trainees across the Tarong site.
Stanwell CEO Richard Van Breda said the corporation had hired 18 apprentices, trainees and graduates across the organisation in 2019, bringing the total number of apprentices across its sites to 49.
The seven new faces at Tarong included four women.
Mr Van Breda warned that the power industry was facing “more and more” changes over the next five years.
“It’s not just the energy industry, it’s all industry,” Mr Van Breda said.
“It’s what’s happening right across Australia, and globally.
“The pace of change is very dramatic. It’s probably quicker than we could ever have anticipated.
“More and more renewables are coming into the market and having an impact on the way (Stanwell) operates.
“No longer do we ‘set and forget’ and run our plants pretty statically, we are having to move them up and down throughout the day as more solar comes online.”
Mr Van Breda said coal currently provides close to 80 per cent of the energy requirements of Queensland.
“Over the next 10 years, we will see renewables pick up,” he said.
“The Queensland Government’s target is 50 per cent by 2030 but coal is still going to be absolutely necessary to support those renewable technologies in the times that the sun’s not shining and the wind doesn’t blow.
“There’s the opportunity for us as an organisation with great plant, both at Tarong Power Station and at Stanwell Power Station, to support renewables and it’s going to become more and more relevant.
“So we are looking at flexible operations … how we operate our plant differently.”
This means ramping the power generating units up when demand is greater, and lowering them when solar kicks in.
Mr Van Breda said Tarong had been testing how low they could operate their generating units.
“Over the next five years, between Meandu and Tarong Power Station, we will invest close to $520 million in the plant,” he said.
“We know we have a huge role going forward.”
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The latest funding grants from the Tarong Community Partnership Fund were announced:
- Kunioon-Hodgleigh Rural Fire Brigade – to help with their new fire shed
- Murgon Junior Rugby League Club – to help build new dressing sheds for women players
- Blackbutt and District Tourism & Heritage Association – to finish renovations at the Railway Siding
- South Burnett Woodcrafters – to build a secure enclosure for their shed
- Benarkin State School P&C – to build a shed to serve as a tuckshop
The Community Partnership Fund also plans to assist with the All-Inclusive Park project in Nanango, with details yet to be finanalised.
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- Planning has begun for a proposed Meandu extension however no financial decision has been made yet. This would extend an existing pit into a forestry area to the north-east of the current pits which is predominantly hoop pine with some some remnant vine scrub. The extension would increase the surface area of the mine by 7 per cent (190ha). This pit would not open until 2024. A 275kV Powerlink feeder line would have to be moved and a section of Ridge Road would also have to be closed.
- Meandu coal production has been increasing since 2014, reaching a peak of 6.49 million tonnes. However, it will start dropping over the next couple of years to 6.19 million tonnes this financial year, and to the “high 5 million tonnes” next financial year.
- A number of tenders have been received for the future operation of Meandu Mine after Downer’s current contract ends. The exact number is commercial-in-confidence. They are now under evaluation and an outcome won’t be announced until late December or January.
- Upcoming shutdowns: Unit 4 will be shut down for 50 days for maintenance at the end of September this year; in April next year, Unit 2 will undergo maintenance; Tarong North will go offline for maintenance in September / October next year.
- $16 million has been spent at the Tarong power stations over the past 12 months to improve performance, including $2 million on a monitoring system in the chimney stack to give real-time information about emissions and how the units are running.
- Upgrades to the electrostatic precipitators (“precips”) have lowered particulate emissions from Tarong’s stack.
- Brad Perry has rejoined Stanwell as the new Tarong Power Stations site manager after working with TransAlta in Canada. Mr Perry formerly worked at Stanwell’s hydro sites in North Queensland, at the corporation’s natural gas power station in Mt Isa and was site manager at Stanwell Power Station.
- Enterprise agreement negotiations have been approved by the State Government and are now being voted on by workers.
- UGL’s contract will be renewed for another two years.
- April was a “zero harm” month at Tarong.
- Queensland’s peak demand record for electricity was broken on February 13 this year.