Burrinjuck Power Station

Key Data
Dam construction completed 1928
Hydro power station commissioned 1938
Dam operating capacity 1,028 gigalitres
Dam height 93 metres
Lake size 55 square kilometres
Generation capacity 27.2 megawatts
Approximate annual generation 74.7 gigawatt hours

Key facts and history

  • Burrinjuck power station is located in New South Wales near the headwaters of the Murrumbidgee River, ~100 kilometres from Canberra and 55 kilometres southwest of Yass.
  • Maximum water capacity of 1,026 gigalitres, almost twice as much as the volume of Sydney Harbour
    • The dam has a catchment area of 12,953 square kilometres
  • Original purpose of the dam was for irrigation in NSW, helping to drive the economic development of the Riverina as a major food producing region
    • Construction of the Dam started in 1909, but due to delays caused by labour and material shortages during World War I, was not completed until 20 years later. Stage 2 of the dam construction was completed in 1958, and post-tensioning works were completed in 1994.
    • Units 1 and 2 were commissioned shortly after construction completed, and in 1938 units 3 and 4 were commissioned to take advantage of the larger proportion of the dam’s outflows. Units 1 and 2 were decommissioned in 1974 following a major flood that severely damaged the station. In response to the flood, the dam wall was increased by 12m and the spillway system was designed to accommodate the probable maximum flood. Unit 5 was installed in 2002 to increase total generation capacity
    • Today, Burrinjuck Dam supplies water for towns, river flows, stock and domestic requirements, irrigated agriculture, industry , flood mitigation and environmental flows
  • Several operational improvements have been made in more recent years
    • In 2002 units 3 and 4 were upgraded from 5 megawatts to 5.6 megawatts, and a new 16 megawatt unit (unit 5) was installed
    • Other upgrades include protection upgrades, voltage regulation upgrades, new fibre optic connections, and communications and SCADA upgrades

See images in the below gallery.

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Power station overview

  • The Burrinjuck Dam wall is a concrete gravity structure
  • Burrinjuck can be fully monitored and largely operated remotely. It is critical to the Murrumbidgee irrigation area
  • Two 5.6 megawatt horizontal Francis turbines (units 3 and 4) are set to a turbine head of 45 metres. An additional 16 megawatt vertical Francis turbine (unit 5) is set to a turbine design head of 49 metres
  • The smaller turbines are connected to a 7 megavolt ampere (MVA) generator, with the larger turbine turning a 20 MVA generator. All three of the generators generate alternating current (AC) at 11 kilovolt (kV) and 50 hertz
  • Minimum and maximum flow rates are 450 megalitres per day and 1,300 megalitres per day for each of the two smaller turbines (units 3 and 4), and 1,000 megalitres per day and 3,200 megalitres per day for the larger turbine (unit 5)
  • Each generator is connected to a common 11 kV power station bus via individual 11 kV circuit breakers
  • The main transformer is connected to the TransGrid owned and operated 132 kV substation bus, outdoor switchgear, and the Yass and Tumut transmission lines

Water supply

  • The dam impounds Lake Burrinjuck and associated the inflows from Yass Lower, Murrumbidgee III and Goodradigbee rivers
  • The Murrumbidgee River rises on the Monaro Plateau, an area of elevated plains peaking at 1,800 metres
  • It operates in conjunction with the Blowering Dam to supply water to 660,000 hectares of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area
  • Despite similar catchments areas, the Goodradigbee River, from the alpine areas, provides four times the flow of the Yass River which originates from drier tablelands
  • The dam has a total catchment area of approximately 12,953 square kilometres, a maximum capacity of 1,026 gigalitres, a spillway capacity of ~2,500 gigalitres per day and a depth of 61 metres
  • Water releases are controlled by WaterNSW with the power station generating electricity from these releases
  • Water is required for irrigation of crops in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area including cotton, fruit and vegetables and pastures for sheep and cattle, as well as for environmental, industry, town water and flood mitigation purposes
  • Dam inflows occurs over the winter / spring period (fill phase) with the storage level typically peaking around October
  • The Dam’s storage and volume falls over the September to April irrigation period.
  • Generation is highest over the irrigation period when demand for water releases is high
Burrinjuck river network catchment area