Powering up – Barron Gorge Hydro back online after Cyclone Jasper

Barron Gorge Hydro Power Station is back online, bolstering Queensland’s renewable energy supply following devastating destruction caused by severe weather in Far North Queensland.

CleanCo has focussed on safety and severe weather resilience as it has worked to bring the 60-year-old generator back into service.

CleanCo is working closely with locals, traditional owners and impacted stakeholders to ensure the safety and protection of people and the environment. 

Kuranda Weir following Cyclone Jasper
A temporary rock wall is now in place at Kuranda Weir

Six months after Tropical Cyclone Jasper wreaked havoc on Far North Queensland, publicly owned CleanCo has today announced that Barron Gorge Hydro Power Station is back online, producing clean energy for Queensland. 

In December, just weeks after celebrating its 60th birthday, the hydro power station was swiftly taken offline due to the inundation of water in the Barron River following Tropical Cyclone Jasper. 

Extremely high water levels in the Barron River caused significant damage to critical infrastructure at the Kuranda Weir which stores water required for power generation.  

Over the past six months, which were some of the wettest in recent memory, CleanCo has carried out critical infrastructure works at the Kuranda Weir. The completion of a temporary rock wall, or coffer dam, has now reinstated the function of the weir and enabled the power station to come back online.  

It also provides safe access for the next phase in the recovery which includes the construction of a weather resilient, permanent concrete wall at the weir. 

While the power station has been offline, CleanCo has put maintenance and safety at the top of the list, conducting inspections and cleaning key power station infrastructure, as well as undertaking significant testing of generation units ahead of the station’s return to service. 

Over the course of the recovery, CleanCo has worked closely with a range of local stakeholders including tourism operators impacted by the cyclone and damage to infrastructure, the local councils and disaster management groups, and the local community. The Traditional Owners, the Djabugay People, have provided Cultural Heritage advice and monitoring at key stages throughout the works, and will continue to be involved in the ongoing recovery efforts. 

CleanCo CEO Tom Metcalfe with apprentices Aelira and Liam at the Barron Gorge 60th Birthday in December 2023
Getting into position to clean the tailrace
CleanCo Queensland is working closely with the Djabugay People throughout the recovery works

As weather events in the Far North become more frequent and more severe, a major focus on the recovery has been around improving resilience at the power station to support the station’s generation for another 60 years. 

Quotes attributable to CleanCo Customer and Energy Markets General Manager Rimu Nelson: 

“We are incredibly proud of the work that has gone into getting this critical infrastructure back online. 

“While the weather in the Far North has proved challenging at times, the team has remained steadfast in getting the job done. 

“We understand how important it is to bring the community along on a journey such as this and we are deeply thankful to the local community for their ongoing patience with the increased heavy traffic and works at the weir. 

“We are also very pleased that local tourism operators, like Kuranda Riverboat and Cairns Adventure Group, who rely on the Barron River for their livelihoods can now resume operations. 

“Safety is at the forefront of everything we do here at CleanCo, and we will continue to ensure the safety of our project team, contractors and locals as we build back better during the next phase of construction.” 

CleanCo’s March stakeholder update.

Quotes attributable to Roderic Rees, Cairns Adventure Group: 

“We have been operating water-based adventure tours in the Cairns region since 1986. We are invested in the future of our people, our place, and the World Heritage Areas within which we are privileged to operate. 

“We’re very pleased that CleanCo has been able to complete the enormity of work, on schedule, providing our business certainty around when water will be flowing down the Barron River again, we are immensely proud of the combined efforts that have enabled us to open the Barron River for commercial rafting activities once again. 

“The resilience, dedication and passion for community shown by the team at CleanCo has been extraordinary, testament to a great working relationship developed over many years. 

“The collective support from Cairns Regional Council, CleanCo, Member for Cairns Michael Healy and Tropical Tourism North Queensland (TTNQ), has been instrumental in reaching this point. Their unwavering commitment to restoring access, infrastructure repair and ensuring water releases has given us the ability to operate safe and fun tours and retain a large portion of our workforce.” 

Fast Facts

  • Barron Gorge Hydro is a 66 MW run-of-river hydro power station that supplies clean energy to Queensland. 
  • CleanCo has so far engaged with over 30 local stakeholder groups throughout the project. 
  • CleanCo is engaging with over 60 local households directly impacted by increased traffic or water level risk.