Pacific Hydro recognised the powerful flows of water released for irrigation purposes from the Southern Hemisphere’s largest irrigation channel, the Mulwala Canal, as an untapped source of hydro power.
As Australia’s first hydroelectric scheme built on an irrigation channel, the project is now generating clean, renewable energy without affecting the water flow to the 2,600 farms the canal supplies.
Once approval had been gained from the local authorities and community, the 2.5MW Drop hydro power plant was constructed on the site and began generating power in 2002. Operations at The Drop abate around 8,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions every year.
Supported by grants from the Australian Greenhouse Office and the New South Wales Sustainable Energy Development Authority, the successful development of this project in a short time frame resulted from the cooperation of a number of organisations, including Murray Irrigation, which is responsible for the water supply.
Construction of The Drop hydro power plant also provided considerable benefits to the local economy including investment and job creation, with up to 30 people employed on the site.