Tallawarra B Power Station is a proposed 316MW expansion of the existing 435MW Tallawarra Power Station located in Illawarra, New South Wales (NSW), Australia. It will be Australia’s first net-zero emissions plant, which will use a blend of green hydrogen and natural gas.

The project is being developed by Australian electricity and gas provider EnergyAustralia. The NSW Government signed an agreement with EnergyAustralia to proceed with the power plant’s development in May 2021.

The carbon emissions from the plant will be fully offset over its operational life. The power plant will support NSW’s plans to be net-zero by 2050 through the use of green hydrogen.

The Tallawarra B power plant is expected to generate enough energy to power 150,000 homes, once it becomes operational in 2023 – 2024. The A$450m ($350m) plant is expected to contribute A$300m ($233.6m) to the local economy and generate 250 temporary jobs during its construction phase. The existing 435MW combined-cycle natural gas power plant (Tallawarra A), which started operations in 2009, powers up to 200,000 homes.

Tallawarra B Power Station location

The new power plant is being developed in Yallah, approximately 13km south-west of Wollongong and 80km south of Sydney, near the shore of Lake Illawara in NSW.

Details of Tallawarra B Power Station

To be powered by a 316MW open-cycle gas turbine, the new power generation facility will meet the electricity needs of the communities in NSW after the closure of the Liddell coal-fired thermal power station in Hunter Valley in 2023.

Although the project will generate emissions, the intensity is expected to be less when compared to a coal-fired power plant.

The gas and green hydrogen-powered project will include components and ancillary infrastructure associated with an open cycle plant which will operate as a peaking facility to generate and supply electricity at short notice during peak demand, on very hot summer days and cold winter nights, or in emergency situations. It will also use the infrastructure of the existing Tallawarra plant.

The power station will include an open cycle gas turbine (OCGT) generator, an evaporative cooling system using potable water, connecting gas pipelines, a gas receiving station and a gas conditioning station, as well as an emergency diesel generator.

The turbine is anticipated to feature low-nitrogen combustors, with natural gas as the primary fuel and diesel as a backup fuel in case of a major interruption or during a limited natural gas supply. Emissions from the plant will be continuously monitored through an emission monitoring system installed at the site.

Natural gas and water supply

Natural gas will be supplied to Tallawarra B through a connection from the existing Tallawarra A power station, which in turn gets its gas supply from the Eastern Gas Pipeline, a 797km-long natural gas pipeline that runs across Victoria and NSW.

The new plant is estimated to require approximately 175 megalitres of potable water a year, in a worst-case scenario. This will be sourced through the existing Sydney Water main connection for the Tallawarrra A.

Transmission details

A transmission line connection will be established to link the new facility to the existing 132kV network. The transmission network will include a high-voltage switchyard, including transformers and switchgear.

Tallawarra B is expected to generate electricity at a voltage range between 11,000V and 22,000V. The voltage will be stepped up to 132kV by a transformer before being fed via the switchyard to the 132kV transmission lines at the site.

Tallawarra B background details

Tallawarra B was initially planned to be built in 2010, to meet electricity requirements at the time, however, unfavourable conditions in the energy market and a potential decline in future demand resulted in delays.

EnergyAustralia filed a modification application for the extension of the project approval lapse date that was approved in April 2016. The company also sought a second modification to the project, through which it requested the extension of the project approval lapse date by two years and the amending of the condition for approval so that a single open cycle gas turbine could be installed to operate the plant.

The project schedule was also impacted by concerns about the risk to aircraft flying in and out of the nearby Illawarra Regional Airport, posed by the gas plume resulting from combustion. The company made consultations with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and Shellharbour City Council to address the aviation safety concerns. A plume rise assessment was conducted and the project plan was redesigned to reduce the plume height to the authorities’ satisfaction.

EnergyAustralia secured the approval for the design modifications for the power plant with regards to aviation safety in April 2020.

Funding for Tallawarra B

The total investment in the new power plant is estimated to be up to A$400m ($309.55m). The Australian and NSW governments agreed to provide up to A$78m ($60.7m) and A$5m ($3.9m), respectively, to support the project.

Through government funding, EnergyAustralia aims to procure 200,000kg of green hydrogen a year, starting from 2025. This is equivalent to 5% of the plant’s fuel use during its operational life.

Contractors Involved

American conglomerate General Electric (GE) was selected to supply the turbine for the power plant.

Australian construction contractor Clough, in collaboration with GE, was awarded the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for the project in May 2021.

EnergyAustralia was advised by law firm Ashurst on the development and operational arrangements for the Tallawarra B Power Station. The scope of advice covered property arrangements, funding from the NSW Government, planning approval requirements and the EPC contract process.

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