29 Nov 2017

Victorian Temporary Standby Emergency Power Supply

Aggreko Power Plant


What is the project?

Temporary standby emergency power supply is needed to help meet Victoria’s power needs under extreme conditions over summer 2017-18.

105 diesel-fired generators have been temporarily installed on land surrounding the former Morwell Power Station, in the Latrobe Valley, Victoria.


Why is this project needed?

Modelling by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) has forecast that during the 2017-18 summer there may be an electricity shortage of around 220 MW in Victoria. Under extreme scenarios (a heatwave across Victoria and South Australia) this may increase to 760 MW. If additional reserves of electricity or reductions in demand are not achieved, parts of the grid may need to be shut down to avoid a blackout. 

AEMO sought expressions of interest from suppliers to provide temporary standby power supply to address the forecast electricity deficit.  Aggreko has been contracted to provide 110 MW of power supply to meet part of this need.

This project is part of the broader ‘summer readiness’ program managed by AEMO that includes maximising the availability of existing generation and transmission and managing demand. Details of AEMO’s full summer readiness activities can be found on their website at: www.aemo.com.au/Media-Centre/AEMO-releases-summer-readiness-report-for-2017-18



When did work commence?

Installation commenced in December 2017 following approval by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), the Victorian Environment Protection Authority (EPA), Heritage Victoria and Latrobe City Council, with preparation of the site to enable the project to be ready to operate in early January 2018.

How long will it be there for?

Three months. Aggreko’s contract is to provide temporary standby emergency power supply commencing in early January and finishing in early April 2018, when all equipment will be packed up and sent to other Aggreko projects around the world.

Will it run 24/7?

No. It is estimated that there is a 61% probability that the power supply will not be required to operate at all. There is a 19.5% probability that it will operate for up to 4 hours during the period January to March, and a 13% probability that it will operate for up to 8 hours over this period. A condition of the Victorian EPA approval is that Aggreko must seek further approval from the EPA to operate more than 20 hours over the whole 3-month period. 

Operations will be limited to 7:00 am to 10:00 pm. However, if the generators are required to operate, they would most likely do so between approximately 1:00 pm and 5:00 pm on hot afternoon/s. They are unlikely to run on weekends, as peak power demand occurs on weekdays.



Why is the old power station being used?


There are very few suitable sites within Victoria that can be used for this type of project at short notice. A key requirement is that the existing electrical infrastructure is capable of managing the input of 110 MW of electricity into the grid. The former Morwell Power Station is one site that can meet this requirement.
Although other sites have been considered, none are suitable due to the ability of their electrical infrastructure to accommodate the input of 110 MW into the grid.


Factors considered in selecting the site included:

  • Site lease: landowner must agree to use of site.
  • Site physical constraints: size, truck and crane access, overhead clearance to power lines, previously cleared, near flat land.
  • The site must have a suitable buffer around it, and a reasonable distance to nearest sensitive receptors.
  • Condition and age of the assets to connect into, and system fault levels.
  • Electricity connection must suit the requirements of electricity transmission and distribution network service providers, and not cause network stability issues.
  • Connection cannot be on a constrained part of the network; AEMO must also agree with the site selection.
  • Given the short time available, only connection at 11 kV or 22 kV is possible. Connecting to electrical infrastructure that is 33, 66 or 132 kV requires long lead times beyond that available for this project.

Will the heritage aspects of the old power station be impacted?

No. All equipment has been positioned outside of the power station buildings on previously disturbed areas. The only access to the power station has been to run electrical cables from the generators and transformers to connect to existing electrical equipment, which will enable the electricity to be supplied to the grid.


Have potential health impacts been assessed?

Air quality and noise specialists have modelled potential emissions and assessed likely impacts. This information was provided to the EPA for their review and approval.

AIR QUALITY modelling

In consultation with the EPA, an air quality specialist has assessed the potential air quality impacts of the proposed temporary power station at nearby ‘sensitive receptors’ (i.e., closest residences and industries).

Modelling has incorporated:

  • 5 years of meteorological data.
  • Background air quality data provided by the EPA.
  • Layout/heights of existing buildings on the site.
  • Layout and typical emissions of the proposed generators.

Heatwaves are the most likely operational time. The specialist reviewed weather data to identify heatwaves in the past 5 years. On average, only 2 to 4% of summer afternoon winds in Morwell blow in the direction of receptors. Such winds are less likely in heatwave conditions, when winds tend to be northerly.

The model was run for a typical heatwave dataset including 4 x 8-hour days, which is over the maximum operating hours permitted (20 hours). Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) was the key emission assessed. In this scenario, there were no exceedances of NO2 criteria at any residential receptors. 

At nearby industrial sites, Workplace Exposure Standards (Safe Work Australia, 2013) for NO2 will not be exceeded.

Particulates (fine airborne particles), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were also assessed in an 8-hour-day/90-day model. Worst-case scenarios showed that no sensitive receptors would have any exceedances of particulates. Results for SO2 and VOCs (including formaldehyde and benzene) were also significantly below relevant EPA criteria. 


Noise modelling

In consultation with the EPA, an acoustic specialist has assessed the potential noise impacts of the proposed temporary power station at nearby ‘sensitive receptors. 

Several days (including weekdays and a weekend) of 24-hour noise monitoring were undertaken on site to assess background noise conditions. Hand-held spot monitoring was also undertaken in nearby streets. 


Modelling has being undertaken incorporating: 

  • Background noise data.
  • Wind conditions in Morwell.
  • Layout of existing buildings on site.
  • Layout and typical noise emissions of the generators.

Compliance was achieved with the EPA’s daytime noise limit under all modelling scenarios.

The most critical assessment criteria are for evening operation (6:00 pm to 10:00 pm weekdays – noting that operation after 10:00 pm is not permitted, and weekend operation is unlikely).

Results show evening compliance at all receptors under calm conditions and when breezes blow away from receptors. Noise levels are impacted by wind direction – i.e., when adverse winds blow in the direction of receptors. 

Adverse winds may result in minor non-compliance of 5 to 7 dB(A) above the relevant evening criteria on the southern edge of Morwell township. For context, a 10 dB(A) difference is similar to the difference in noise level between the sound of a desktop computer (40 dB(A)) and a refrigerator (50 dB(A)) – which are similar to the noise levels under consideration for this project’s receptors.

The noise specialist reviewed Morwell long-term average wind data from the Bureau of Meteorology. In January to March, only 2 to 4% of winds blow in the direction of the Morwell and Church Road receptors. Such winds are less likely during heatwaves, when winds tend to be northerly in this region.

Although 20 to 22% of winds blow in the direction of Firmins Lane receptors, modelling shows evening compliance at that site.

Noise levels at nearby industrial/commercial sites are below criteria specified by the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017.


The Section 30a approval issued by the Victorian EPA on 1 December 2017 required that Aggreko must implement a monitoring program including monitoring noise levels at sensitive receptors (as identified during the noise modelling) and monitoring of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) when the generators are in operation. Aggreko have installed noise and air quality monitors in the vicinity of the project site. These monitors will remain in place until early April 2018, and monitoring will occur during operation of the generators, if this occurs. Further information is available at http://eriasgroup.com/aggreko/vic-temp-emergency-power-supply

Will there be local and/or Victorian employment?

Aggreko are using a number of businesses locally and throughout Victoria to provide services including site setup (around 50 personnel required), cranes and transport, security, accommodation, equipment hire, gravel and cables.

Why not use renewables and/or gas?

Existing renewable energy is already included in the AEMO forecasts. No new renewable energy is available within the extremely short timeframe available to provide the additional electricity that may be required. Similarly, it is not possible to construct a gas-fired power station within the timeframe available. 

Why are diesel generators being used? 

Diesel engines are highly efficient in terms of energy production, and the technology is ideally suited to providing emergency standby generation due to its rapid start-up time (electricity can be generated within minutes of start up). The technology is utilised around the world in hospitals etc., which require a very short period from starting to generating electricity. 

In terms of carbon emissions, Aggreko’s diesel generators have an emissions intensity of 668 kg CO2/MWh, compared to the Finkel Review’s recommended benchmark of 700 kg CO2/MWh, and 1,400 kg CO2/MWh for the Hazelwood Power Station prior to its closure. The proposed generation also has a better emissions intensity than liquid-fuelled open cycle gas turbine generation.

To download a presentation about the project, click on the link below. 

Download the presentation

For more information please email rertquestions@aggreko.com.au and we will get back to you as soon as possible.