The 570MW Wivenhoe Pumped storage hydropower station in Queensland – the largest hydroelectric facility in the Australian state – is set to be given a major overhaul under a $17 million investment announced this week by Assistant Minister for Energy, Lance McCallum.

The maintenance work, which has already commenced, aims to ensure the ongoing reliability of the 285MW Unit 2 at the project and support the state's transition to clean and sustainable energy. The overhaul will span 100 days and create job opportunities for 100 workers as part of the Queensland Energy and Jobs Plan under the Palaszczuk Government. 

Wivenhoe Pumped Hydro Power Station has two 285MW turbines and these planned maintenance works take place every five years which is critical for the long-term reliability of Queensland’s only existing pumped hydro facility. Unit 1 at the facility will continue to operate as normal during the works, after its own overhaul in 2021.

Publicly owned CleanCo is being supported by the specialised workforce at Downer to undertake these works, and where possible is engaging local businesses to support the delivery of this important work.

Assistant Minister Lance McCallum emphasized the significance of Wivenhoe Pumped Hydro in achieving the government's goal of delivering cleaner, cheaper, and more secure energy. "By undertaking significant maintenance on one turbine at a time, the Wivenhoe Pumped Hydro can continue to operate throughout the overhaul period, providing reliable low-emission energy to the grid," he stated. "Wivenhoe is incredibly important for our plan to deliver cleaner, cheaper, more secure energy – as Queensland’s only current pumped storage hydroelectric power station, it’s a fast ramping, flexible energy generator that is setting us up for 70 per cent renewable energy by 2032."

Trevor Turner, the Wivenhoe Site Manager, explained that the maintenance work requires a highly skilled workforce. "Our team will be required to work across three separate work fronts which predominately include working at heights and in confined spaces to inspect and where needed, repair or refurbish the power station structure which is around 50m below Wivenhoe dam level," he said. "The team is very proud of the work we are doing to preserve and enhance the efficiency and long-term reliability of the power station, and our sharp focus on health, safety, environment and quality will be the key to a successful overhaul."

CleanCo CEO, Tom Metcalfe, highlighted the importance of Wivenhoe Pumped Hydro in the Queensland energy network. "Wivenhoe Pumped Hydro is a unique asset not only in CleanCo’s portfolio, but in the broader Queensland energy network. It plays an essential role in firming wind and solar energy to provide Queenslanders with reliable, low-emission energy during peak periods," he said. "These major overhauls allow us to thoroughly inspect the asset and undertake significant maintenance activities to ensure it continues to operate efficiently and reliably as the dependence on energy storage technologies increases."

Nikki Poteri-Collie, General Manager Industrial & Energy East at Downer, expressed the company's commitment to delivering highly technical services and ensuring the ongoing reliability of Wivenhoe. "Downer has provided outage and maintenance at Wivenhoe for 20 years, and we’re pleased to continue this track record of delivering highly technical services, ensuring the ongoing reliability of this important asset."