Snowy Hydro and SMEC reunite for Snowy 2.0

Snowy Hydro Limited and the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation Australia (SMEC) will join forces once again, this time to carry out the feasibility study into the potential expansion of the Snowy Scheme’s pumped hydro storage capability.

Snowy Hydro and SMEC have a long association and worked together from the earliest days to develop the iconic 4,100 megawatt (MW) Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme under the auspices of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority, established in 1949.

Selected through a tender competitive process which attracted interest from a field of world-class engineering firms, SMEC has now been appointed as the lead consultant engineer for the feasibility study into the first major expansion of the Scheme since construction days.

Snowy Hydro CEO Paul Broad said “SMEC was the obvious choice to partner with us on the study, given we share the same DNA. It really is a case of getting the band back together. The task now will be to bring together our best and brightest to revisit some of the visionary proposals developed over many years by the talented men and women who built the Scheme.”

The feasibility study will first review existing proposals to expand pumped hydro storage on the Snowy Scheme, many of which have existed since the 1960s. Under the most prospective proposal, up to 2,000 MW of hydro-electric energy could be added to the grid to act as rapid response back-up during periods of high demand and fill the gaps in energy supply caused by the growth in intermittent renewables and the exit of thermal baseload power.

The pumped hydro capability means the water utilised for electricity generation can be recycled to provide supply when it’s needed most, with no impact on the Scheme’s ability to continue to supply valuable water to irrigators in the food bowl of south-eastern Australia.

“This project has the potential to deliver one of the largest pumped hydro schemes in the world and underscores the importance of the Scheme’s existing role as the battery of the National Electricity Market.”

“While it has long been an Australian engineering icon, the importance of the Snowy Scheme’s role as the battery storage of the NEM will only become more critical as we move to a low carbon economy. The reliable, fast-start Scheme can help to responsibly manage the exit of baseload thermal power and the rise of intermittent renewables.

“As we move through the feasibility study phase, we will gain greater clarity around the technical and engineering requirements for the expansion as well as costs and timeframes for its construction”, Mr Broad said.

SMEC CEO Andy Goodwin said “Snowy Mountains are part of our namesake and the backbone of our heritage, so the chance to be involved in this project again is a unique 'twice-in-a-lifetime' opportunity, both for our organisation and those engineers who worked on the original scheme.

The Snowy 2.0 project will provide us with new design challenges from its predecessor and we've created a team of our most experienced specialists to deliver the feasibility stage.

We're honoured to be part of the project and looking forward to resuming our presence within the Cooma community again."

SMEC’s appointment will deliver significant benefits to the local Snowy Mountains community. As part of its commitment to this project, SMEC will reopen its previous offices in Cooma, which will see more than 30 staff permanently based in the town.