LIQUID GOLD: The overflow ‘worth $1.3bn’ we’re missing out
As a wall of water 3m high and 500m wide pours over the Burdekin Falls Dam a hydro-electric expert says it should be generating clean, green power worth $1.3bn.
Professor Simon Bartlett, who led investigations into hydro-electricity for the former State Electricity Corporation of Queensland, says the current waste cannot be tolerated.
"The Burdekin Falls is the Snowy Mountains scheme of northern Australia and should be developed," Professor Bartlett said.
"We cannot tolerate wasting 17,000 Olympic swimming pools a day, given Australia's drought conditions and need for continuous renewable hydropower."
Rising from just over half full, Queensland's biggest dam has been filled and topped up to 145 per cent capacity in a matter of days. It is now holding 2.7 million megalitres and 400,000 megalitres a day is spilling.
"We need to raise the dam to store the water currently being wasted and install a hydro generator to generate clean renewable hydropower valued at some $8m a day," Professor Bartlett said.
"Simulation studies by the State Electricity Commission and Water Resources Commission in 1985 indicated that, over its operating lifetime, the total value of the spilt water would be $1.3bn in present terms. This would cover the cost of raising the dam, installing hydro power, with a profit that could be reinvested."
But Professor Bartlett said a larger multi-staged project should be considered.
He said they could raise the existing dam, install a large 450MW hydro-electric station in the left bank saddle dam, and then develop another smaller dam at Leichardt, 30km downstream, to form the lower pond for a 1000MW pumped storage power station.
"This would be equivalent to the Snowy 2.0 scheme at a fraction of the cost and much higher efficiency," Professor Bartlett said.
"It could generate hundreds of new construction jobs where they are most needed - in regional Queensland."
Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Minister Mick de Brenni said the government was developing a hydro study to search for the best location to create clean, cheap energy.
"We are canvassing hydro projects across the state as a priority so that we can find the best deal for Queensland's energy users, and Burdekin Falls Dam is being assessed as a potential location," he said.
Originally published as LIQUID GOLD: The overflow 'worth $1.3bn' we're missing out on