New turbines for Roxburgh

Four new turbines are being installed at the Roxburgh Dam. Below: The dam. PHOTOS: CONTACT ENERGY
Four new turbines are being installed at the Roxburgh Dam. Below: The dam. PHOTOS: CONTACT ENERGY
Contact Energy is upgrading four of its Roxburgh hydro-electric dam turbines with a $33-million investment that will improve the dam’s efficiency and increase its average annual generation by 44 gigawatt hours (GWh), meaning more renewable power for Kiwi homes.

The power company said in a statement yesterday the project would replace four of the eight existing turbines. The first shipment of new components arrived at the dam late last week.

The new 28.5-tonne, 3.9m diameter stainless steel turbines were designed and manufactured using modern techniques by the German hydro-engineering manufacturer Voith Hydro.

"Roxburgh’s new turbines are more efficient than the original design, so we will get additional energy output for the same amount of water", Contact Energy acting head of projects and performance Kirk Pritchard said.

"The increase in the station’s electricity generation is enough to power an extra 6000 homes."

Roxburgh Dam.
Roxburgh Dam.
The power station was commissioned between 1956 and 1962 and still generates power using the eight original Canadian-built turbines. The first four were installed in 1956-57 and the second four in 1960-61.

"For 70 years in service, our existing turbines are still in a good, safe and usable condition, but they are inefficient by today’s standards and ready to retire before wear and tear requires too much maintenance and increases the risk of failure."

Hydro-electric dams such as Roxburgh played a big role in generating renewable energy in New Zealand, and the investment into the new turbines was part of Contact’s commitment to lead the decarbonisation of the country, Mr Pritchard said.

"The update to Roxburgh will enable us to deliver more renewable energy and displace almost 20,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year."

The power station has a capacity of 320 megawatts and generates between 1400 and 1830 GWh per year, enough to power more than 250,000 homes.