WHILE out of action since 2014 there have been plenty of behind the scenes works undergone for the former Wallerawang Power Station.
Greenspot has been in charge of the site since September 2020 and made plans for its repurposing to become the home of the Wallerawang 9 Battery and a number of other projects.
To get the ball rolling, decommissioning, demolition and rehabilitation (DDR) works commenced in early May under contractor Liberty Industrial. The works are expected to conclude towards the end of 2022.
Greenspot CEO Brett Hawkins said the greater community can expect the power station to be demolished and cleared in an appropriate way.
"We are committed to all appropriate environmental and safety measures. We've got a fundamental commitment to that and so does Liberty," he said.
Mr Hawkins said infrastructure including the turbine hall, cooling tower, administration building and coal dome would all be retained.
"Importantly not all infrastructure will be demolished under our plans. We want to repurpose that infrastructure to create new business and employment opportunities at the site, the other alternative which has been undertaken with other coal fired power stations, is to knock over all that existing infrastructure," he said.
Repurposing the site
Mr Hawkins said the Old Wallerawang Power Station is planned to be redeveloped into a multi-purpose precinct.
"We are developing concepts in relation to what the site could become. That is happening in parallel to the DDR project," he said.
"Obviously the DDR project is very important as a first step."
He said the Wallerawang 9 Battery project was at a fairly advanced stage and Greenspot's broader plans for the activation of the site would be underpinned by energy and water infrastructure, transport networks and digital connectivity.
The Wallerawang 9 Battery
The proposed Wallerawang 9 Battery is a 500 MW/1000MWh Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) and is the same scale as Neoen's proposal for the Great Western Battery at Brays Lane.
"Our proposed battery would utilise the existing 330kV high voltage connection that was installed for the retired Wallerawang Power Station," Mr Hawkins said.
According to the scoping report for the project, lodged with DPIE the need for the battery can be divided into two key parts:
- To support NSW Government strategy for a reliable, affordable and sustainable electricity future that supports a growing economy. BESS facilities such as the Wallerawang 9 Battery will provide enabling infrastructure for expanding the renewable energy industry in NSW particularly in and around the Central West Orana Renewable Energy Zone (REZ).
- To provide a stable, reliable and cost effective energy source for the future development of the site.
Greenspot business development executive Sam Magee said there were a number of benefits having the battery.
"Renewables like wind and solar, are great when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing but if the sun's not shining or the wind's not blowing, the lights would go out, unless there is alternative supply through quick start generation to support the system.
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"Or a battery which can come into the system very quickly to fill the energy supply voids that intermittent renewables can cause," he said.
He said traditional coal plants don't have the ability to ramp generation up and down quickly to respond to sudden changes in supply.
"Fast dispatch plants, like batteries can perform this role ensuring the stability of electricity supply and reducing the risk of blackouts," he said.
Mr Magee said batteries were an asset to provide system stability.
"Batteries protect against sudden changes in supply and that's part of the reason why they're popping up throughout Australia," he said,
He said the Wallerawang 9 Battery would benefit and support the Central West Orana REZ.
"It's really going to complement the wind and solar projects and it can also help to stabilise the grid and the electricity system," he said.
Mr Hawkins said the battery has the potential to contribute meaningfully to the NSW Government's electricity infrastructure roadmap and was an important enabling piece of infrastructure for the redevelopment of the site.
Why the Old Wallerawang Power Station?
"Fortunately we've got a fantastic site for it," Mr Magee said.
The site is approximately 620ha in size including the surface area of Lake Wallace. 100ha of that is already zoned IN3 (heavy industrial) and approximately 15ha is already zoned IN1 (general industrial), with the balance currently zoned SP2 Infrastructure (electricity generation). It is also directly adjacent to the TransGrid 330kV high voltage connection.
"From a zoning perspective we believe we have solid foundations and we will look to rezone parts of the site based on market demand from different sectors," Mr Hawkins said.
Mr Magee said the Wallerawang power station had the characteristics needed for the battery whereas a number of other proposed sites throughout Australia were further from the actual transmission.
"The distance to transmission is a big part of the cost to connect to the network. At Wallerawang we're already adjacent to the actual transmission," he said.
"The more you have to spend in order to connect, the more you have to pay back for power in order to access that resource. So by having it here, it's really the most economical site you can get.
"Building these new electricity assets economically, ultimately translates into lower energy costs for business and mums and dads."
Mr Magee said Greenspot were also reusing resources that had already been built for the community.
"The site contains substantial existing infrastructure suitable that can be repurposed for the battery which also reduces development cost," he said.
"The transmission connection point and existing infrastructure make this arguably the most cost effective battery development site in NSW."
Potential for jobs
When Wallerawang Power Station ceased operation in 2014 around 220 jobs were lost, not including multiplier impacts to the economy.
Mr Hawkins said there would be a lot of construction jobs going while the battery needed to be built and Greenspot hoped to continue employment opportunities post construction.
"There might be 150 construction jobs over a year and a half but once operational these batteries are largely automated and therefore you don't need a lot of jobs post construction on a battery.
"But here, we hope that the battery can be part of what we're building out, to underpin that medium to longer term job growth," he said.
Mr Hawkins said Greenspot had undertaken substantial community engagement to work out what people would like as a result from the site.
"Largely, we believe the community wants opportunities for the younger generation coming through so that's what we're about primarily and that's why I think the repurposing of the site is of significance. We're committed to doing our best in that regard," he said.
Future growth of Lithgow LGA
Mr Hawkins said Greenspot wanted to play a part in the growth and future of the Lithgow LGA and region more broadly.
"As regional areas continue to be unlocked, from both a living and working perspective, but also from a tourism perspective, we'd like to play our part in that," he said.
"We are working closely with the local community, Lithgow City Council, the NSW Government and other key stakeholders to optimise long-term economic and social outcomes for the site and for the region."
Mr Hawkins said Greenspot intends to hold an open community session towards the end of July where they will provide further detail and seek community feedback.
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