Edition 3, Revised 7/11/2016
Queensland has a very long high voltage transmission grid that extends 1,700km from north of Cairns to the New South Wales border Apart from the populated south east corners and the industrialised Gladstone region this long grid feeds a state with a low population density.
The Queensland’s electricity transmission network currently comprises 275kV powerlines from Cairns to the southern Gold Coast, with 110kV and 132kV powerlines providing transmission in local areas and supporting the 275kV network.
In addition, 330kV powerlines link Queensland to the New South Wales network, allowing the flow of high voltage electricity between the two States.
A 500kV transmission network is being introduced in South East Queensland. Note that one 500kV power line is capable of carrying about the same amount of electricity as three 275kV powerlines, with a much smaller land use requirement.
Queensland is Australia’s most energy hungry state on a per capita basis. Currently 92% of electricity generated in that state comes from fossil fuels. Even with proposed renewable energy project shown in Table 1, the actual CO2 emissions intensity is unlikely to reduce because of the poor capacity factors of wind and solar generation.
The generating units at coal fired plants such as Stanwell, Gladstone and Callide are not especially large being in the range of 350MW to 450MW and are matched to a 275kV transmission system. The capacity of these systems in 2016[i] and proposed upgrades is listed in Table 1
|Fuel||Capacity MW||%||Proposed MW||%|
Table 1 – Queensland Generating Capacity – 2016
Total electricity generating capacity in Queensland in 2013-14 was 13,873MW which generated 64TWh of gross electricity production[ii]. This is expected to grow to 85TWh by 2050. Peak demand actually sent out is expected to grow from 9.6 GW in 2016 to 10.6 GW in 2036 and say 11.5 GW in 2050.[iii]
The need to address global warming with nuclear energy is immediate. Larger 1GW reactors such as the Westinghouse AP1000 are currently available to be used in the south east corner of the state. This would require grid capacity to be increased to incorporate 500kV transmission lines. Large reactors can also be used within the industrial region of Gladstone to meet the demands of the LNG plants and aluminium refineries however this would also require grid upgrades to the south east region to ensure robust supply during refuelling and reactor trips.
In the remainder of the state it is assumed that the replacement of existing gas and coal plants will be carried out with 225MW small modular reactors.
Nuclear Power Plants in Queensland
This preliminary plan envisages that by 2050 the state will require:
By 2050 this plan envisages the use of 9 x 1.177GW AP1000 nuclear power plants and 45 x 0.225 GW SMR’s
|Region of Interest||Location||Feature||Siting||Cooling||Comment|
|1||Stanwell||Inland||Stable rock or non rock foundations||Hybrid wet/dry process.||No grade required.
Assumes minimum plant size 6 x 225MW SMR’s = 1,350 MW
|2||Gladstone||Coastal site||Stable rock or non rock foundations||Once through sea water cooling||Grid upgrade required. Assumes minimum plant size 4 x 1,177MW AP1000’s = 4,708MW|
|3||Callide||Inland||Stable rock or non rock foundations||Hybrid wet/dry process.||Modest grid upgrade, Assumes minimum plant size 10 x 225MW SMR’s = 2,225 MW|
|4||Tarong||Inland||Stable rock or non rock foundations||Hybrid wet/dry process with water reservoir||Grid upgrade required. Assumes minimum plant size 2 x 1,177MW AP1000’s = 2,234MW|
|5||Millmerran||Inland||Stable rock or non rock foundations||Hybrid wet/dry process.||No grid upgrade, Assumes minimum plant size 4 x 225MW SMR’s = 900 MW|
|6||Kogan Creek, Braemar||Inland||Stable rock or non rock foundations||Hybrid wet/dry process.||Modest grid adjustments, Assumes minimum plant size 12 x 225MW SMR’s = 2,700 MW|
|7||Wivenhoe||Inland||Stable rock or non rock foundations||Hybrid wet/dry process with large water reservoir||Grid upgrade required. Assumes minimum plant size 3 x 1,177MW AP1000’s = 3,531MW|
|8||Swanbank||Inland||Stable rock or non rock foundations||Hybrid wet/dry process.||Modest grid adjustments, Assumes minimum plant size 4 x 225MW SMR’s = 900 MW|
|9||Townsville||Coastal||Stable rock or non rock foundations||Once through sea water cooling||Modest grid adjustments, Assumes minimum plant size 4 x 225MW SMR’s = 900 MW|
|10||Toowoomba||Inland||Stable rock or non rock foundations||Hybrid wet/dry process.||Modest grid adjustments, Assumes minimum plant size 4 x 225MW SMR’s = 900 MW|
|11||Woolaga||Inland||Stable rock or non rock foundations||Hybrid wet/dry process.||Grid Upgrade, Assumes minimum plant size 4 x 225MW SMR’s = 900 MW|
[ii] Australian Energy Projections to 2049-50 Nov 2014 Bree.gov.au
|[iii] AEMO National Electricity Forecasting report for the NEM published June 2016|
In Queensland coal fired plants were constructed adjacent to available coal mines and other infrastructure.
New nuclear plants will where possible take advantage of the resource used for cooling at these plants.
At Townsville and Gladstone sea water cooling will be used
In an effort to reduce the environmental impact upon inland water resources, modern nuclear power plants are being designed to use a hybrid system of air and water cooling. During periods of low water availability the degree of air cooling can be increased though at a modest reduction in power output.
The tabulation shows the anticipated type of cooling at each plant
Australia’s long coastlines provide many options for locating nuclear power plants
To overcome issues surrounding temperature rises in inland locations cooling towers or mechanically driven systems known as hybrid and recirculating systems can be used. These are now the only option used in the United States under their EPA guidelines.
While recirculating systems don’t add heat to the river or lake, they do consume water through evaporation. In Australia the availability of sizeable inland rivers are limited though a number of large reservoirs such as Wivenhoe Dam provide a substantial resource for fresh water cooling.
An excellent and detailed outline of the cooling options is available at: Cooling Power Plants | Power Plant Water Use for Cooling – World Nuclear Association