6 minute read

Meeting peaking demand with Barker Inlet Power Station

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AGL Energy
01 August 2018

Peaking power, that is power that’s available during peak demand, has an important role to play in our evolving energy market. The cost of renewables is now cheaper than new coal and while underlying demand for energy is falling slightly, peak demand, for example during heatwaves, is marginally rising. In this context, our new peaking gas plant, AGL’s Barker Inlet Power Station, has an important role to play in delivering an energy mix which meets community needs across the year.

How’s Barker Inlet tracking?

The development of AGL’s Barker Inlet Power Station is progressing well, with site works now underway. This $295 million plant will take around 18 months to build and it is expected to be operational by the second half of calendar year 2019.

Currently around 25 people are working at the site under the direction of the Principal Contractor Wartsila and it’s expected that around 200 jobs will be created during construction.

How will the plant work?

As announced last year, the Barker Inlet Power Station will have around 210MW of capacity which involves the installation of 12 reciprocating engines that can generate approximately 18 MW each from either gas and liquid fuel. The units are capable of operating at full capacity within five minutes of starting, providing a rapid response to changes in renewable generation supply and demand.


This modern power plant will make a significant contribution to improving energy security in SA. It’s new technology so it’s much more reliable than the ageing plant it will replace. The equipment is also much more efficient, requiring 28% less fuel (therefore 28% less CO2).

Responsive to demand

Demand snapshot

  There are three categories of demand:

  • Baseload - demand that's there all the time, night and day, this has historically been provided by coal-fired generation.
  • Intermediate - additional demand on top of baseload when commercial and industrial users are active, this is now supplemented by renewable energy like wind and solar.
  • Peaking - usually occurs on very hot days when everyone's air-conditioners get turned on at the same time, this is can be met by gas reciprocating engines like Barker Inlet, open cycle gas, or pumped hydro.

What has prompted the increased need for peaking power?

The declining cost of utility (large) scale renewables has spurred its rapid development and so there is a greater need for highly flexible capacity which can be switched on or off according to the more variable needs of the market given renewables aren’t always available.

This increasing need for flexible and dispatchable energy, like gas peaking plants, is why gas is a critical part of an orderly transition to a clean and reliable energy supply.