Continuous Power for Nhulunbuy

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Hart MarineThe Background

Nhulunbuy, often referred to as Gove, is the largest town in Arnhem Land and the fourth largest in the Northern Territory. The mining company leases the land on which the town sits from the traditional Aboriginal owners. Built on a special purpose lease as a company town, the establishment of Nhulunbuy also meant the mining company developed essential infrastructure, including the power station, port facilities and an airport.

When it was announced in late 2013 that alumina production would be suspended in 2014, the significant impact on the local community was immediately recognised. The mining company made a commitment to support the continuation of a viable community and economy that includes the ongoing provision of
power, water and sewerage.

According to EPSA’s National Rental Sales Manager Steve Adamson, one of the mining company’s challenges in securing a smooth transition and continuity of electricity supply for the township was that the existing 80-megawatt power station, which serviced the refinery and powered the town, would become unstable, increasing the likelihood of repeated failures.

“The residents were constantly affected by unforeseen blackouts, so continuing to use the existing power station was untenable. Our customer wanted to find a smarter solution to support the residents of Nhulunbuy, and engaged us to supply a temporary high-voltage 10-megawatt standby power station to avoid outages,” says Steve.

“Our high-voltage solution was capable of a rapid deployment for the standby backup and I am proud of how we responded as a team to this brief. Engaging EPSA to support risk mitigation and continuous power demands for the 4,000 or so people who call Nhulunbuy home helped our customer instill community confidence.

“Led by EPSA’s Darwin office, our engineering, project and service teams were immediately mobilised to install and commission the eight 20-foot containerised Cat® PM1500 modular generators that synchronised into the EPSA-supplied high-voltage step-up transformer that is back-energised as a reference signal. 

“We successfully demonstrated our commitment to safety and, in only four days, the team installed and commissioned this high-voltage power station with zero harm and without any safety incidents. They more than met our customer’s expectations and really demonstrated our capability to respond to crucial and time-sensitive briefs.

“From administrators to service technicians, everyone worked for many hours and put in an extraordinary commitment to deliver for the customer and support the Nhulunbuy community,” he adds.

“In addition, Hastings Deering has a local branch in the region, which means any critical spares or service support can be mobilised without delay.”

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