Duck Reach Power Station
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|Duck Reach Power Station|
Duck Reach Power Station c1930
|Location||South Esk River, Tasmania|
|Units operational||8 then 4 then 5|
|Nameplate capacity||0.435 MW (583 hp) then 1.2 MW (1,600 hp) then 2 MW (2,700 hp)|
Duck Reach Power Station was the first publicly owned hydro-electric plant in the Southern Hemisphere, and provided the Tasmanian city of Launceston with hydro-electric power from its construction in 1895 to its closure in 1955.
The site was picked by Launceston city surveyor and engineer Charles St John David in 1892.
The penstock ran diagonally down the hill into the centre of the rear of the power station where it channeled in to successively smaller pipes and finally to eight Siemens turbines.
Drilling the tunnel
The tunnel was drilled to a length of 850 metres (2,790 ft) at a 1 to 110 grade. The tunnel was cut through the hill side instead of being piped around and it took 16 months to complete using pneumatic drills. Dolerite is so hard it took one week of eighteen 8-hour shifts cutting from both ends of the tunnel to cut just 2.5 metres (8 ft 2 in) however the average speed of the drilling was about 5 metres (16 ft) a week. Two men were killed in accidents. When both ends met it was found that the accuracy was within 1 inch.
The following is paraphrased from the display plaques now within the power station:
Originally the installation had a capacity of 75 kW DC, provided by five 15 kW dynamos, and 360 kW AC, provided by three 120 kW alternators. The turbines were manufactured by Gilbert Gilkes and Co., whilst the dynamos and alternators were built by Siemens and Co.. All alternating-current (AC) supply was single-phase. By 1906 demand had risen and it became necessary to upgrade the plant. This was done by removing much of the original equipment and replacing it with four 445 hp Francis turbines manufactured by Kolben and Co. of Prague, each coupled to a single 300 kW three-phase alternator again built by Siemens and Co.. This raised the AC capacity of the station to 1.2 MW. The original DC equipment remained in use.
Again by 1926, this had become inadequate, and to ease the problem a new 0.88-megawatt (1,180 hp) turbine coupled to an 800 kW alternator was added alongside the existing machinery. To drive this new turbine a timber flume and a masonry aqueduct was constructed, running from Deadmans Hollow around the bend in the South Esk River to the slope immediately behind the Power Station, where it was led into a new steel penstock running alongside the original one. The addition of this new turbine and alternator raised the capacity of the station to 2 megawatts (2,700 hp). In the photograph above, the left-hand penstock is the newer one.
One of the original Siemens and Co. 15 kW DC dynamos, dating from 1895, is preserved and on display within the station.
- Hydro Tasmania; South Esk Power Development, , Accessed June 2006.
- Lee, Anthony (September 2005), Nomination of Duck Reach Power Station as a Historic Engineering Marker, Volume 1 - Nomination, Engineering Heritage Tasmania, Engineers Australia, retrieved 2012-02-01
- Lee, Anthony (September 2005), Nomination of Duck Reach Power Station as a Historic Engineering Marker, Volume 2 - Appendices, Engineering Heritage Tasmania, Engineers Australia, retrieved 2012-02-01
- McFie, H. H. (2002), "Duck Reach – The First Significant Hydro-Electric Development in Australasia", Proc. 6th National Conference on Engineering Heritage, Hobart