25 June 2021

Contact begins five-year project to replace Roxburgh Power Station turbines

Contact Energy (“Contact”) is replacing half of the 60-year-old hydropower turbines at the Roxburgh Power Station over the next five years, working with German hydro-engineering manufacturer Voith.

The power station was commissioned between 1956 and 1962 and still generates with the eight original Canadian built turbines, the first four were installed in 1956/57 and the second four in 1960/61.

The current project will see four of the power station’s eight hydro turbines replaced, with the first new turbine scheduled to come online in 2024. 

The replacement turbines will be designed using modern engineering and manufacturing techniques resulting in more efficient use of the existing water flows, delivering an additional 44 gigawatt hours of energy in an average hydrology year.

Contact CEO Mike Fuge said the project was another small but vital step in lowering New Zealand’s carbon emissions.

“While a turbine replacement project isn’t as grand as a new build, we are constantly looking for ways to demonstrate operational excellence and improve our generation efficiency. We want to make the best use of the precious taonga we are responsible for.

“We expect Voith will supplement its international experts with local construction workers and NZ based contractors, which is positive news for the local Alexandra and Roxburgh communities. Projects like these will have real, tangible benefits for our local communities.” 

Mr Fuge said the original turbines have performed “extremely well” for 70-year-old technology, and have provided clean, renewable electricity for New Zealand since the 1950s.

“By updating the plant we can deliver more renewable energy for generations to come and remove 2,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year. This is equivalent to removing 9,000 petrol cars from New Zealand roads.” 

Stephen Lewis, President and CEO of Voith Hydro APAC, said that Voith Hydro is honoured to be associated with the efficiency and performance improvement of the turbines at the historic Roxburgh Power Station. The project will be executed in collaboration between Voith Hydro Engineering centres in US, Germany and India and the new turbines shall be manufactured at Voith Hydro’s manufacturing facility in Vadodara (India). The site works shall be supplemented by local construction workers from a New Zealand based subcontractor.

Mr. Lewis further expressed that Voith Hydro is strongly committed to the long term development of hydropower in Australia and New Zealand.

Once the design, scale model testing, and fabrication are completed by Voith Hydro, the turbines will be shipped to New Zealand. Contact expects the first unit to arrive in 2023. Each turbine requires approximately six months of installation and commissioning work before it begins operation. 


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Leah Chamberlin-Gunn 
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Roxburgh at a glance;

  • Roxburgh is a concrete gravity dam that contains nearly half a million cubic metres of concrete weighing 1.5million tonnes
  • The power station had a capacity of 320MW and generates between 1,400 and 1,830 GWh per year
  • Contact Energy has consents in place through to 2042
  • The lake formed by the dam covers an area of nearly six square kilometres