2023 – Kidston HEP Wises Dam – The Rubber Hits the Road

M Barker, S Hart, C Green, J Spooner

Hydro Electric Power using pump storage is one of the significant renewable energy sources for Australia. The Kidston Hydro Electric Power (HEP) project provides a first for Australia in the use of a disused mine to provide both the storage capacity and the head to develop a scheme with 250MW capacity.

The scheme comprises an upper storage Wises Dam with two vertical shafts leading to the underground powerhouse discharging into the lower Eldridge pit creating a head of over 200m for the power generation. Pumping back to the upper storage is achieved using the turbines with solar power.

The Wises Dam has been constructed using waste rockfill from the mine excavation with a High density Polyethylene (HDPE) liner for the water barrier. Considerable review of the foundation conditions including the use of a 3-D leapfrog model for the evaluation of the foundation depths for the HDPE plinth was required. Construction techniques for the liner preparation were challenging and the contractor made significant contributions to the design changes, which improved the constructability and sustainability of the works, including the use of cement stabilised crusher dust for the liner support. Rockfill placement was a challenge and compaction and testing has provided useful information on placement methods for rockfill using bulldozer compaction.

The hydraulics of the intake channel and water balance modelling were critical to understanding the performance of the HEP system.

This paper presents the design and construction challenges for the storage dam of the HEP project and use of materials when overcoming construction challenges.

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