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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 6

I Construction During The Settlement Years

II The Use Of Timber As A Structural Material

III Structural Steel

IV Concrete Technology

V Housing

VI Industrialised Pre-cast Concrete Housing

VII Ports And Harbours

VIII Roads

IX Heavy Foundations

X Bridges

XI Sewerage

XII Water Engineering

XIII Railways

XIV Major Buildings

XV Airports

XVI Thermal Power Stations
i Steam Power Stations Using Brown Coal
ii Fabric Filters for Coal Fired Power Stations
iii Thermal Electricity Generation in Queensland
iv Conversion of Kwinana Power Station from Oil to Coal Firing
v Remote Area Power Supply Alternatives in Western Australia

XVII Materials Handling

XVIII Oil Industry

XIX The Snowy Mountains Scheme

XX The Sydney Opera House

XXI The Sydney Harbour Bridge

XXII Hamersley Iron

XXIII North West Shelf

Sources and References


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Remote Area Power Supply Alternatives in Western Australia

The people and the industries located in remote areas are crucial to Australia's economy. Power supply is an infrastructure expense which is potentially crippling to the economics of remote area mining and agricultural industries. Oil prices have escalated tenfold since 1974. In 1978 the State Energy Commission of WA had begun to implement policies to reduce dependance on the use of liquid imported fuels. These included the replacement of oil fired generation in the metropolitan area with indigenous coal based plant and well considered policies to restrain costs for remote area generation which was all heavy oil or distillate based.

The policy for remote areas included the extension of an interconnected system; centralised diesel plants in country towns; improved performance of isolated generator sets; solar thermal generating units; solar photovoltaic generating units, and wind power units.

Extension of Grid

Between 1977 and 1983 rural customers in Western Australia have been added at the rate of 1,400 per year. In the 1981/82 financial year, a staggering 4,700 km of rural extension lines were added to the distant extremes of the metropolitan grid. In 1984 the Kalgoorlie goldfields region was added, displacing 15 megawatts of SECWA diesel plant and a further 43 megawatts of privately owned plant. In 1985 Port Hedland, Cape Lambert and Dampier/Karratha will be interconnected, with the power coming from Cape Lambert power station which is fueled on indigenous north west gas. This will displace a further 30 megawatts approximately of liquid imported fuel based plant.

It is hoped that by now Western Australia will have reduced its dependance on liquid import fuels from more than 50 per cent in 1974 to less than 10 per cent of total statewide generation. The State's richest export industries will thus be buffered against oil shortages in the future. Further the Commission has decided to pipe NW gas into Canarvon Power Station and is actively engaged in research to run the major part of its remaining distillate based plant on liquid natural gas (LNG) derived from the NW gas. Optimistically, then, in the future Western Australia will have minimal dependance on the liquid imported fuels.

Centralised Plant in Country Towns

The major advantage of this is to obtain improved diversity in plant use. An example has been the expansion of the Great Southern (Esperance) grid. A load consisting of large numbers of consumers tends to vary slowly enabling the selection of optimal plant (fuel efficiency wise) for the load. Diversity considerations are the main reasons for extending local country town grids.

Changed Considerations

In 1985 a report was prepared considering the capital cost of supplying the rural extreme grid connections. It was estimated that with capital and interest rates considered each unit of electricity was costing 87c to supply. The commission was charging 12c per unit. The policy of subsidy was based on state legislation. These costs have caused SECWA to began again considering options to rural extension.

Among the options being considered are photovoltaics and windpower. The Commission has become well aware of these options because of the RAPSI (Remote Area Power Supply Investigations) research program it implemented in 1978. Up until 1985 the SECWA had spent approximately $8 M in researching renewables energy technology. This program included two solar thermal power stations, the Ansaldo at Ballajura and the Step 100 project at Meekatharra. The Meekatharra project ran successfully for eighteen months. Research data gathered on the latter project clearly indicated this type of technology would not be viable.

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - State Energy Commission of W.A.; thermal power stations, named; thermal power stations, named

People in Bright Sparcs - Sutherland, K. N.

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© 1988 Print Edition pages 407 - 408, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher