GHD enhances energy security in the Kimberley

Share on:

28 March 2017

One of the world’s leading engineering, architecture, environmental and construction services companies, GHD managed the recently completed upgrade of Horizon Power’s Kununurra backup diesel power station in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

In recent years during the wet season, severe thunderstorms and lightning strikes regularly affected the transmission line from the Ord River hydroelectric power plant and customers experienced blackouts for extended periods.

The AUD14.4 million project was critical to the regional towns of Kununurra as the power station is the only backup source of electricity supply, but was in need of upgrade due to ageing infrastructure. The project addressed the augmentation of the existing diesel fired power station with the supply of new generators and relocation of mobile generator sets from Horizon Power’s Carnarvon power station, new balance of plant including SCADA and control systems, demolition and removal of ageing fuel storage and building infrastructure.

GHD was engaged as the Engineering, Procurement, Construction Management.(EPCM) contractor by Horizon Power to manage a challenging construction schedule during the dry season and oversee critical integration and commissioning activities.

“There were so many moving parts to this project that the planning and scheduling was particularly challenging. Not only were there complex technical issues around SCADA, multiple protection systems and security of supply requirements, it was also crucial to work effectively with multiple stakeholders and the community. The nature of the project meant we were required to work on an aged and complex power system that had to continue supplying the town whilst we upgraded its component parts. There were strict criteria the project had to meet and we needed to be confident that once the plant was commissioned, it would result in significant system reliability improvement,” says Ben MacDougall, GHD’s Project Manager.

During critical commissioning tests, power was restored to Kununurra community in less than 90 seconds – a marked improvement over the previous average of 60 minutes. To date, the backup plant has been dispatched over five times with successful and fast reconnections of supply each time.

Paul Buch, GHD’s Manager – Power, says, “The significance of the work, and the trust instilled in GHD to deliver this project, illustrates the strength of our client relationship and technical excellence in safely delivering brownfield power projects.”

Brett Whisson, Project Director for Horizon Power, says, “We are delighted with the results of this project. The upgrade of the existing power station means that restoration of power is now a seamless automatic process. The project team led by GHD had to work very hard during the dry season to complete the work. The fact that the power station has been tested ‘in anger’ multiple times over this wet season is a testament to the success of the project.”

For more information please contact Paul Buch or Ben MacDougall.

GHD Library

The GHD library is a collection of relevant resources.