Snowy 2.0 realising a decades old vision

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The Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme, built between 1949-74, is considered one of Australia’s greatest feats of engineering. Now, more than 40 years later, the full vision is being realised with Snowy 2.0.

ICN NSW is working with both Future Generation and Voith Hydro on the project, which is well underway at the construction site in the Snowy Mountains.

Future Generation is a joint venture between Italy’s Webuild (formerly Salini Impregilo), Australian-based Clough and US-based Lane Construction. The JV was created specifically to build Snowy 2.0 on behalf of Snowy Hydro Limited. Work packages calling for expressions of interest for Snowy 2.0 are regularly listed on Gateway.

Voith has been awarded the contract to supply the Snowy 2.0 pumped storage plant with electrical and mechanical power plant components.

The $5.1 billion Snowy 2.0 project, operated by Snowy Hydro Limited, will add 2,000 megawatts of energy generation, with 175 hours of storage, for the National Electricity Market. This will help ensure the stability and reliability of the system during prolonged weather events. The first power is expected to be generated in early 2025.

The project links two existing Scheme dams, Tantangara and Talbingo, through tunnels and an underground power station with pumping capabilities. Hydro-power will be generated by falling water spinning Snowy 2.0’s giant reversible turbines, which can also pump water in the opposite direction.

Snowy 2.0’s pumping capabilities work in a ‘closed’ system – water is recycled between the upper dam (Tantangara) and lower dam (Talbingo). This means the same water can be used to generate power more than once. This technology is used across the world and Snowy Hydro already has pumped-hydro capabilities at the Tumut 3 Power Station.

The ability to store water and generate power on-demand means Snowy 2.0 can be ‘switched on’ very quickly. It will pump water using the excess electricity in the system at times of low demand. Then, when energy is needed most, the stored water will be used to generate electricity within minutes.

For example, if the wind is blowing in the middle of the night when people are asleep, Snowy 2.0 can use the wind energy to pump and then store the water in the upper dam. When households wake up and the demand for energy soars, Snowy 2.0 can quickly generate energy for the grid.

The project includes about 27 kilometres of underground excavation and tunnelling works between Tantangara and Talbingo dams, as well as surface works in several locations.

The power station complex will sit about 800m underground, with two main caverns – a machine hall and transformer hall.

Six galleries will run between the two halls, carrying cables to connect the generators with the transformers.

It will house six reversible Francis pump-turbine and motor-generator units, arranged in the power station in alternating order. There will be a single inclined, concrete-lined pressure tunnel that will divert water into six steel-lined tunnels feeding water into the generating units.

The construction of Snowy 2.0 is full steam ahead. Exploratory Works, such as establishing and upgrading access roads, and electricity connections to construction sites, construction of permanent bridges etc, have been underway at Lobs Hole since May 2019.

There has been significant activity at the Lobs Hole work site. An initial camp accommodation has been established and excavation has been carried out at the main access tunnel portal in preparation for tunnelling later this year.

The first of three tunnel boring machines has arrived at Port Kembla and will soon be transported to the Snowy Mountains, where it will be reassembled on site and tested and commissioned to start tunnelling.

ICN Regional Manager South NSW, Geoff Reardon, said Snowy 2.0 comes under the Australian Industry Participation plan, which means the major contractors are required to commit to a percentage of local content.

“ICN is encouraging suppliers interested in supplying to either Future Generation or Voith to keep their profile up to date, attend workshops and register for updates in one of the country’s biggest engineering feats since the Snowy Mountains Scheme itself,” he said.

To find out more about Future Generation JV visit www.futuregenerationjv.com.au

To find out more about Voith, go to www.voith.com 

To find out more about the Snowy 2.0, go to www.snowyhydro.com.au/snowy-20/about/

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