Shipping containers converted to power plant at Port Hedland

Posted February 14, 2015 09:51:03

Four shipping containers fitted with gas turbines have been officially fired up in Port Hedland to supply electricity to the community until a bigger power plant is built.

The iron ore hub in WA's Pilbara, which is also the site of Australia's biggest export port for the commodity, is facing increasing energy demands.

US-based power provider APR Energy installed the mobile plant at a new power precinct at the Boodarie Industrial Estate.

APR Asia Pacific managing director Clive Turton said it was the company's first Australian project.

"APR Energy is a specialist company that focuses on fast-track power, so we can put together large-scale power plants in a very, very short time," he said.

"We can build a plant in 90 days, and have it from nothing to delivering power in that time so this plant [in Port Hedland] is something we put together very quickly, within a couple of months of contract signature."

He said the units were about the size of a big semi-trailer.

"You have those four units all lined up together ... they're fully cyclone-proof and they're on a site which contains all of the other equipment that's required for the power plant," he said.

The mobile plant will initially provide up to 60 megawatts of power to the Pilbara electricity network, but has a capacity of 100 megawatts.

Mr Turton said APR hoped to expand into the mining sector.

"Any kind of remote area where you need reliable power with low emissions and a small footprint, this would be applicable," Mr Turton said.

"So any kind of extractive industry, mining, oil and gas anything like that where you're not part of the grid, or you need to make sure you have your own source of power to back up grid power or other sources."

Horizon Power managing director Frank Tudor said the turbines would remain in place until at least 2017 when a permanent 150 megawatt combined cycle gas power station was due to be completed.

"The great majority of capital investment that is being put in place is supporting initially the hosting of the temporary generators," he said.

"They will eventually be replaced by the permanent generation that's being built right next door by TransAlta and the vast majority of the capital investment will then look to support the main generators that are put in place for the permanent solution."

Last April, the State Government chose Canadian-based energy company TransAlta Corporation as the preferred proponent to fund, build, maintain and operate the $570 million permanent station.

The permanent station will provide energy to Horizon and Fortescue Metals Group for at least the next 25 years.

Mr Tudor said the short and longer-term projects would deliver a more efficient power supply to support growth.

"We will see from the state's point of view a much more efficient generator that's been put in place, initially with the APR equipment and then with the TransAlta equipment which is going to take waste heat and recycle it through steam turbines," he said.

"The efficiency there - we will get up to 50 per cent given the gas prices and input prices."

Topics:electricity-energy-and-utilities, recycling-and-waste-management, port-hedland-6721

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Updated February 14, 2015 11:19:52

The Prime Minister's decision to sack Philip Ruddock as chief whip has sparked a fresh round of internal bickering, with one MP saying the so-called Father of the House has been made a "scapegoat" following this week's leadership vote.

Tony Abbott surprised his colleagues late yesterday by announcing he had removed Mr Ruddock from the key position.

Some of Mr Abbott's supporters believe Mr Ruddock did not do enough to publicly rally support for the Prime Minister and should have done a better job of picking up on backbench disquiet in the weeks leading up to the failed attempt to spill the leadership.

But some MPs who wanted a spill are bewildered and confused by Mr Ruddock's sacking - one saying "the night of the long knives has begun".

Others described it as "another captain's call" that had gone down badly within the party.

Queensland backbencher Andrew Laming has gone public with his criticism, describing it as "scapegoating of Godzilla proportions".

But Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Mr Laming had "ulterior motives" given he supported the spill motion.

Mr Frydenberg rejected suggestions the Prime Minister's decision was retribution and said he spoke to Mr Ruddock this morning.

"He understands that this is a decision for the leader to take," Mr Frydenberg told Sky News.

"I think this is a decision that is just within the normal course of what happens within government."

Mr Ruddock is not commenting about the decision, except to say the position of chief whip is the gift of the Prime Minister.

Mr Ruddock, who is known as the "Father of the House" for being the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, will be replaced by Queensland MP Scott Buchholz.

Tasmanian MP Andrew Nikolic, a prominent supporter of the Prime Minister, will also be promoted to a whip position.

He said he did not see it as a reward for publicly urging his colleagues against a spill.

"The reason I did that was not for any reward, but to say to my colleagues that the last thing we should be doing is demonstrating the sort of disunity that the Australian people comprehensively rejected," Mr Nikolic said.

Mr Frydenberg has welcomed the appointments.

"In Scott Buchholz we have a very good man who will be our new whip, and Andrew Nikolic as a deputy who's also very experienced in rounding up the troops if you like," Mr Frydenberg said.

Mr Abbott is known to have great respect for Mr Ruddock and he paid tribute in a statement confirming the changes Friday afternoon.

"I acknowledge and thank the Hon Philip Ruddock MP for his extraordinary contribution to our country, this Government and the Liberal Party," Mr Abbott wrote.

"As Father of the House, Philip has given over four decades of service to the Australian Parliament and the Australian people.

"He was a senior minister throughout the life of the Howard government and was shadow cabinet secretary in opposition.

"Later this year he will become the second longest-serving parliamentarian in our history."

The move had been under discussion for more than a day.

The two men met after Parliament rose on Thursday.

Topics:liberals, liberal-national-party-queensland, political-parties, government-and-politics, federal-government, federal-parliament, abbott-tony, australia

First posted February 14, 2015 10:56:08