Queensland hit by widespread power outage after fire and explosion at Callide power station

 
  8502 Train Controller

An explosion and fire at a power station in central Queensland has caused outages to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across the state.

Police and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) were called to the Callide Power Station at Biloela shortly before 2:00pm.

A QFES spokeswoman said a turbine was on fire at the station and staff had been evacuated with a 550-metre exclusion zone having been set up while firefighting operations continue.

QFES has warned it was likely to be a "prolonged incident" and residents were urged to stay clear of the site.

QFES deputy commissioner Mark Roach said fire crews were working with power station staff to safely access the site.

Mr Roach said power was now off to the station site and any of the gases or chemicals had been disconnected or shut down.

He said QFES was working with Callide power station staff to get teams in breathing apparatus into the station to establish if there was still a fire, or if it had been extinguished.

A Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) spokeswoman said no patients were being treated.



The Callide coal-fired station supplies baseload electricity to the national grid from two sites.(ABC News: Hayden Cooper
)Queensland Energy Minister Mick de Brenni told state parliament while 400,000 customers had initially lost power, 300,000 homes had already had power restored and further restorations were ongoing.

CS Energy, the operators of the Callide station, have tweeted it had "immediately acted following an incident" at the station and there were no reported injuries.

"At approximately 1:45pm today, a fire occurred in one of the turbine halls at the power station," the statement said.
"As a result, the three units that were generating at the time went offline.

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  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
  Lockspike Chief Commissioner

Mmmm..., tricky situation; you can't turn off the boilers just like that. It takes hours for that level of energy production to be brought under control. I'm sure the emergency workers wouldn't like the safety valves lifting ShockedCrying or Very sad. At least the in-house first responders would be expecting it.
  justapassenger Minister for Railways

Interesting that this happens just a few days after it was pointed out the market doesn't want Scomo's new gas power station...
  c3526blue Deputy Commissioner

Location: in the cuckoos nest
Sabotage by the Greens/Marxists/Climate Zealots to get us used to living in the dark.  Laughing
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
What was the reaction of the network manager?  Where were they able to source supply from to make up the difference can anyone say?
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
What was the reaction of the network manager?  Where were they able to source supply from to make up the difference can anyone say?
james.au

National grid is buying in power from interstate but I am not sure there enough power over the border announced this morning. So rationing may be required.

From what I can read the issue was a fire in the generator.  This will not be easily fixed but it is one of 4 I believe at the power plant?
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
What was the reaction of the network manager?  Where were they able to source supply from to make up the difference can anyone say?

National grid is buying in power from interstate but I am not sure there enough power over the border announced this morning. So rationing may be required.

From what I can read the issue was a fire in the generator.  This will not be easily fixed but it is one of 4 I believe at the power plant?
bevans
The inter-tie that allows power to move between NSW and Qld is limited in the northerly direction due to historic lack of need. Qld can export up to around 1500 - 2000 MW but import less than 500 MW. In the hours immediately after it was less than 400 MW and hence whole sale prices in the south of the country were not affected by Qld's spike of up to $15000, which incedently occurred a number of hours later as evening peak mixed with loss of solar in the evening.

Over half the states coal energy operating at the time tripped. Not too surprisingly considering Qld's relatively young fleet of coal power stations includes a number of Supercritical which don't like disruption.

Looking at their demand, its clear numerous loads were dropped not just houses, likely Boyne (or part of) and the coal industry including electric coal trains may have been stopped for 1-2 h. Boyne cannot go longer than 2h and this is likely a contributor to the massive spike in wholesale power prices a few hours later as if they were originally cut, they had to come back up at the expense of residential and light commercial and have a contract to do so at. To put in more bluntly, their contract (when I was there) puts them at #1 position in the state, i.e. if there is only 1000 MW available, Boyne gets all those 1000 MW due to the sensitivity of their process and costs involved should power go off for an extended period.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Interesting that this happens just a few days after it was pointed out the market doesn't want Scomo's new gas power station...
justapassenger
The market needs, only a few say its not.

There is no evidence to support that data that the gas plant is not needed.

Considering the power sector was previously told what they didn't need and this led to sky high power prices, its best to let them make the scientific decisions now, not clueless or vested interest individuals.

It will become more apparent its needed by 2028 when Vales Point closes.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

Senator Matt Canavan was on commercial radio news this morning saying he's been told the damaged generating unit may take years to repair...I guess Hitachi doesn't have many spares just lying around.

A spokesperson for CS Energy was saying this morning that Callide staff re-entered the site just after midnight. One generating unit has been completely destroyed, staff were still assessing the damage (if any) to the remaining three.

As an aside I was working in Rockhampton yesterday, we experienced a substantial power surge at 2.06pm (when Callide fell off the grid), but didn't lose power. However as the afternoon progressed, our power became increasingly "dirty"...resulting in all sorts of issues for our equipment.
  Carnot Minister for Railways

Senator Matt Canavan was on commercial radio news this morning saying he's been told the damaged generating unit may take years to repair...I guess Hitachi doesn't have many spares just lying around.

A spokesperson for CS Energy was saying this morning that Callide staff re-entered the site just after midnight. One generating unit has been completely destroyed, staff were still assessing the damage (if any) to the remaining three.

As an aside I was working in Rockhampton yesterday, we experienced a substantial power surge at 2.06pm (when Callide fell off the grid), but didn't lose power. However as the afternoon progressed, our power became increasingly "dirty"...resulting in all sorts of issues for our equipment.
Sulla1
I honestly doubt they'll even bother repairing the destroyed generating unit, especially if the cost outweighs any future returns.

One thing I found fascinating is that some diesel powered generators were feeding into the grid yesterday afternoon in Qld.  I understand there is a 34 MW one at Mackay, and also Hospital and Airport back-up diesel gensets in Brisvegas.
  Carnot Minister for Railways

Also worth noting that wind generation hit a new peak yesterday afternoon: https://reneweconomy.com.au/australias-main-grid-reached-new-record-wind-output-on-tuesday-afternoon/

Just as well a strong cold front was blowing through SE Australia at the time when Callide detonated itself.
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW

The inter-tie that allows power to move between NSW and Qld is limited in the northerly direction due to historic lack of need. Qld can export up to around 1500 - 2000 MW but import less than 500 MW. In the hours immediately after it was less than 400 MW and hence whole sale prices in the south of the country were not affected by Qld's spike of up to $15000, which incedently occurred a number of hours later as evening peak mixed with loss of solar in the evening.
RTT_Rules

How much generation was in the south that was prevented from being exported to Qld?  If the connector wasn't limited, could the state needs have been met?
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Senator Matt Canavan was on commercial radio news this morning saying he's been told the damaged generating unit may take years to repair...I guess Hitachi doesn't have many spares just lying around.

A spokesperson for CS Energy was saying this morning that Callide staff re-entered the site just after midnight. One generating unit has been completely destroyed, staff were still assessing the damage (if any) to the remaining three.

As an aside I was working in Rockhampton yesterday, we experienced a substantial power surge at 2.06pm (when Callide fell off the grid), but didn't lose power. However as the afternoon progressed, our power became increasingly "dirty"...resulting in all sorts of issues for our equipment.
I honestly doubt they'll even bother repairing the destroyed generating unit, especially if the cost outweighs any future returns.

One thing I found fascinating is that some diesel powered generators were feeding into the grid yesterday afternoon in Qld.  I understand there is a 34 MW one at Mackay, and also Hospital and Airport back-up diesel gensets in Brisvegas.
Carnot
Why it (Callide C) is only 20 years old?

EDIT, Callide B will likely close around 2028, Callide C will operate into the 2040's.

Feedback from Boyne this morning it was switch gear and likely less dramatic than played out in the media. Remember it takes 3 years to build these things from placement of PO.

About 320 MW of diesel entered the Qld network in the hours that followed.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Also worth noting that wind generation hit a new peak yesterday afternoon: https://reneweconomy.com.au/australias-main-grid-reached-new-record-wind-output-on-tuesday-afternoon/

Just as well a strong cold front was blowing through SE Australia at the time when Callide detonated itself.
Carnot
There was basically no wind power generation in Qld at the time of the outage or hours that followed.

It would appear that the trip actually took the small amount of wind, around 80 MW of wind off line while the grid was unstable for around 2h until it was stablised likely with the support if the diesel. After which wind contributed around 100 MW.

Many of the wind and solar farms in Oz still require the base load generators "to do what ever they do" to the grid to enable the RE to feed into the grid. ie loose of coal means any wind and solar output is also disabled.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE

The inter-tie that allows power to move between NSW and Qld is limited in the northerly direction due to historic lack of need. Qld can export up to around 1500 - 2000 MW but import less than 500 MW. In the hours immediately after it was less than 400 MW and hence whole sale prices in the south of the country were not affected by Qld's spike of up to $15000, which incedently occurred a number of hours later as evening peak mixed with loss of solar in the evening.
How much generation was in the south that was prevented from being exported to Qld?  If the connector wasn't limited, could the state needs have been met?
james.au
No idea, likely more than Qld needed as wind was high in all other states thus limiting any OCGT and other peaking capacity from being needed in the evening peak.

Ok just quickly,
Bass link was in export mode, but only around 50% with hydro in Tas still having around 500 MW at least spare

Vic was basically only importing a small amount from Tas and SA and nothing else with only a tiny amount of hydro and OCGT being used.

SA was exporting but still around 400 MW of capacity left to export.

NSW had probably at least 1000 MW of coal, hydro and gas spare.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Confirmed, Boyne smelter went off for "a couple of hours". So that's 1000 MW less.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
The damage seems to be more than just a turbine or even a power station as the Qld grid is now heavily dependent on gas turbine and not really exporting any significant quantity.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

The damage seems to be more than just a turbine or even a power station as the Qld grid is now heavily dependent on gas turbine and not really exporting any significant quantity.
RTT_Rules

Units 1, 2 & 3 will be off-line for at least one week - probably some sort of restarting sequence they need to go through I guess. Queenslanders have been asked to minimise electricity use, but I haven't come across many people doing that.

Unit 4 completely destroyed, replacing it will take at least one year - the government and CS Energy both saying that will happen. Unit 4 had been overhauled last year and had only been in operation for about six months since rebuild when the incident happened.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
The damage seems to be more than just a turbine or even a power station as the Qld grid is now heavily dependent on gas turbine and not really exporting any significant quantity.

Units 1, 2 & 3 will be off-line for at least one week - probably some sort of restarting sequence they need to go through I guess. Queenslanders have been asked to minimise electricity use, but I haven't come across many people doing that.

Unit 4 completely destroyed, replacing it will take at least one year - the government and CS Energy both saying that will happen. Unit 4 had been overhauled last year and had only been in operation for about six months since rebuild when the incident happened.
Sulla1
Damage to switch gear and other common facilities need to be repaired. Unit 4 turbine was destroyed, boiler ok.

It doesn't take a week to restart a coal plant, only a few hours.

The state has been returning to its export status, last night exporting 500 MW during peak no need to save power. Which sort of has to be done to insulate NSW and Qld against another turbine trip.

The biggest problem was the number of coal turbines off for other reasons at the time, basically one per power station, including Kogan Creek, which went down the day before. Unit 1 at Callide was also off for PM at the time. They just need to recovery at least one and almost back to normal.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
I wonder what a 'coal turbine' looks like?
I have only seen steam, water and gas turbines. Smile
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
I wonder what a 'coal turbine' looks like?
I have only seen steam, water and gas turbines. Smile
YM-Mundrabilla
"coal fired turbines", for those who need to be pedantic Laughing
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
I wonder what a 'coal turbine' looks like?
I have only seen steam, water and gas turbines. Smile
"coal fired turbines", for those who need to be pedantic Laughing
RTT_Rules
Some of us read your every (usually informative) word - except for the unexplained acronyms, of course. Smile
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
The state has been returning to its export status, last night exporting 500 MW during peak no need to save power. Which sort of has to be done to insulate NSW and Qld against another turbine trip.
RTT_Rules
My high level understanding of the grid indicates that the interfaces between the states are somewhat sensitive.  I assume as there are few connections between the historic state grids?  Are there any places within states that have similar sensitivities?
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
The state has been returning to its export status, last night exporting 500 MW during peak no need to save power. Which sort of has to be done to insulate NSW and Qld against another turbine trip.
My high level understanding of the grid indicates that the interfaces between the states are somewhat sensitive.  I assume as there are few connections between the historic state grids?  Are there any places within states that have similar sensitivities?
james.au
There are limitations in the connections between the interstate grids based on historic need.

QN1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queensland_%E2%80%93_New_South_Wales_Interconnector is the main intertie between NSW and Qld and has nearly double the capacity headed south than north because NSW has been a net imported for over a decade now due to Qld's relatively young and surplus capacity in SW QLD.

I don't know details but there used to be limits within Qld, ie SE corner to CQ and CQ to NQ, but I know extra capacity was built but I don't know how much. There were also limits in Tasmania between Nth and Sth and NW, however this was sometime ago and may have changed.

There is also a private DC link, but smaller. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terranora_interconnector

The Australian govt is funding major upgrades to most of the long haul connectors, having done Vic - SA a few years back and QN1 is getting capacity increase to help NSW manage life without Liddell.

Qld is also supporting an HV link to connect the Mt Isa grid (currently an island) to the main grid.

Overall $ billions have been spent and $ billions more will be spent converting the NEM from 5 independent and in some cases more smaller sub independent grids into one large grid that is far more flexible and better able to move the growing RE power around where its available to where its needed. The NSW - SA link will for example enable SA to pull from the SNowy and SNow 2.0 when there is limited RE and then feed excess RE directly into NSW and if required help recharge snowy 1.0 and 2.0 pump back. Likewise the QN1 upgrade will include a section down to the snowy for the same reason and also include the more effective use of the Wivenhoe pump back.

To give you an idea on how much things have changed in the last 15 years. Coal used to provide around 85% of all power in what is now known as NEM (Tas, SA, Vic, NSw and Qld grids) and needed nearly twice as many coal fired turbines than we have today. Yet no new coal plant has been built since Kogan Creek in 2007 and coal fired demand has dropped only marginally to around 70%. The remaining coal fleet is experiencing utilisation that most had ever seen in its life, in part because of a more flexible grid and also because of the boom in gas fired peaking plants rather than using aging smaller coal fired plants.  

Disclaimer, this is all from my reading over the years and limited interaction from working in Aluminium, if others know more, feel free to correct any of the above.

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