Top Biggest & Majestic Hydroelectric Plants in Australia
According to the Clean Energy Council, hydroelectric power plants generated more than 25% of Australia’s clean electricity in 2019 and 6.2% of the nation’s total electricity during that same year.
Most of Australia’s hydropower resources are located in the states of Victoria, Tasmania, and New South Wales.
Since 2016, Australia’s largest and most intricate engineering project, the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme, has been listed on the nation’s National Heritage List.
Its construction, which involved more than 100,000 workers, was finished over a 25-year period, from 1949 to 1974. Along with other well-known Australian landmarks like the Sydney Opera House and the Great Barrier Reef, the Snowy Mountains Scheme has been added to the list of World Heritage Sites.
Australia has more than 120 hydroelectric power plants, which produce between 5 and 7% of the nation’s total electricity supply, according to the government’s Renewable Energy Agency. It trails both wind and solar (9% each). Australia is home to both large and small hydroelectric facilities that can generate a total of 7,800 megawatts (MW) of electricity.
The majority of Australia’s hydroelectric power plants are mostly found in the south-eastern region, which also has the highest rainfall and elevation. New South Wales, Tasmania, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, and Western Australia do, however, have hydroelectricity plans at the moment.
The Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme, which is in New South Wales, is the largest plant. It includes 16 large dams, 5 above-ground power plants, 2 underground power plants, and nearly 150 km of trans-mountain tunnels. It has an installed capacity of 3,800 MW.1 The Snowy Mountains Scheme produces about 50% of all hydropower in Australia.
Additionally, work has started on a new project in the Snowy Mountains that will link two existing dams, add 2,000 MW of capacity, and store 350,000 MWh of energy.3 When finished, this could supply energy to 3 million homes each week5, with power production beginning in 2025.
Tumut 3 is the first pumped-storage hydroelectric power plant on the continent and is owned and run by SnowyHydro, a company owned and operated by the Australian government. It was put into service in 1973.
Tumut 3 is one of the nine hydroelectric facilities that make up the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme. It is situated in Talbingo, New South Wales, on the Tumut River. The entire Snowy Mountains Scheme consists of 145 km of connected tunnels and 16 large dams.
Six Toshiba turbines at Tumut 3 Power Station, with a combined output of 1,800 megawatts (MW), are installed there. The use of another 600MW is for pumping.
One of two Murray Region Hydroelectric Power Stations owned and run by Snowy Hydro, Murray 1 Hydroelectric Power Station is situated nearby the town of Khancoban in the Snowy Mountains region of New South Wales.
This gravity-fed, conventional power plant, like Tumut, is a part of the Snowy Mountains Scheme and has 10 Francis-type Boving turbines that can produce a combined 950MW (1,270,000 hp).
Murray 1 Power Station, which was finished in 1967, has a 1,413 GWh annual electricity generation capacity. Murray 1 generates enough electricity to supply 95,000 homes.
The Murray 2 Hydroelectric Power Station is the third on this list and the second of the Murray Region Hydroelectric Power Stations. The Murray 2 power plant, another one owned by Snowy Hydro, is situated 2.5 kilometers from Khancoban town in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales.
Murray 2 is a traditional gravity-fed power plant with four Francis-type Hitachi turbines that was put into service in 1969. Murray 2 has an annual electricity generation capacity of 810GWh thanks to its four turbines’ combined power of 550MW (740,000 hp).
The Wivenhoe Power Station is owned and run by CleanCo Queensland and is situated in the Wivenhoe Pocket in southeast Queensland, halfway between Splityard Creek Dam and Lake Wivenhoe, 50 kilometers west of Brisbane.
The largest Francis-type turbine in Australia, each of the two concrete silos in this 1984-commissioned pumped-storage hydroelectric power plant houses a 250MW unit, giving the station a total installed capacity of 500MW (670,000 hp). Overlooking the Brisbane River, the Wivenhoe Dam contains Lake Wivenhoe.
Wivenhoe recycles its own water, in contrast to other traditional hydropower plants that rely on water released from dams or rivers.
The Gordon Power Station, which is situated on the Gordon River in the state’s southwest and is the largest conventional hydroelectric power plant in Tasmania, comes in at number six on this list.
The power station, which is run by Hydro Tasmania, was established in 1978 and is fueled by the waters of Lake Pedder and Lake Gordon. Three Francis-type Fuji turbines with a combined horsepower of 193,000 are used in the Gordon power plant to produce 432 MW of electricity. The generation is 1,388GWh annually.
The Queensland government’s plan for renewable energy shows the state’s commitment to pumped hydro technology, if there is one thing to learn from it.
Two new pumped hydro facilities, one of which will be the biggest of its kind ever built, are the centerpiece of the state’s new renewables target.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk made the declaration during her State of the State address on Wednesday, during which she also presented the 10-year energy strategy.
In southeast Queensland, west of Gympie, at the Borumba Dam, one pumped hydro plant will be constructed.
The Pioneer-Burdekin Pumped Hydro Project will be the name of the second, larger facility, and it will be located 70 kilometers west of Mackay.
The company announced on Wednesday that the biggest hydropower project in Australia could be delayed by up to two years, likely delaying its start-up until 2028. This is the latest setback for the A$5 billion ($3.33 billion) renewable energy project.
Due to the delay, the cost of the Snowy 2.0 project is now anticipated to increase. The government-owned company attributed the delay to a lack of skilled labor, complex designs, soft ground, and supply chain disruptions.
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