UPDATES ON 2023 WINTER SNOW DEPTH MEASURING ACTIVITIES
Snowy Hydro measures and publicly reports snow depth at a number of designated snow courses across the Snowy Mountains in NSW, including Spencers Creek. Our main objective for collecting this data is to make operational decisions regarding the management of inflows to the Snowy Scheme.
With our strong commitment to the safety of our people, the frequency of our measurements has varied in recent years. Safety is always Snowy Hydro’s number one priority and we continue to refine and improve our safety practices regarding access to remote sites.
By being more flexible with how we collect data in remote locations, including the regularity and frequency of obtaining snow depth readings, we reduce the need to send staff to remote locations in poor weather conditions. This agility allows us to schedule this work to occur when conditions are safest.
Advances in technology and our improved processes are also reducing reliance on manual snow depth measurements at frequent intervals.
Snowy Hydro recognises the value of long-term records and issues of continuity will remain front-of-mind with the implementation of any changes.
This year, Snowy Hydro commenced monitoring in mid-June. We will continue to take readings on an as-needed basis, when it is safe to do so. This may result in less regular updates than have occurred in the past.
Snowy Hydro will continue updating its website after collecting each manual snow depth reading. The latest information can be found here.
The Snowy 2.0 pumped-hydro mega project has achieved another important construction milestone, with a second tunnel excavation completed at Lobs Hole in the Snowy Mountains.
The 2.93-kilometre emergency, cable and ventilation tunnel (ECVT) has been excavated and fully lined with 13,140 locally-manufactured concrete segments by tunnel boring machine (TBM) Kirsten. This achievement follows the excavation of the adjacent main access tunnel (MAT), which was completed in October 2022.
Snowy Hydro CEO Dennis Barnes said Snowy 2.0 was continuing to make solid progress, with around six kilometres of tunnelling by TBMs completed and drill and blast excavation of the power station cavern about to start.
“We are extremely pleased the ECVT excavation has been completed and the whole project team is excited to be moving into the next critical phase of construction. Our huge power station cavern will be located about 800 metres underground and will be one of the largest and deepest in the world.
“We are also using drill and blast methods to construct cross passages linking the ECVT with the MAT.
“Meanwhile TBM Kirsten, which is setting a global standard in TBM technology, is being modified to carry out another very specific task – to excavate the inclined pressure shaft and line it with specially-designed and locally manufactured concrete segments.
“The shaft is 1.45km long and excavating a segment lined tunnel of this length at a very steep 47% incline using an 11-metre diameter TBM is without precedent internationally.”
Modifications to Kirsten include altering the levels of the TBM’s tanks and mechanical equipment so they remain horizontal when travelling up the incline, and converting the walkways into steps and ladderways.
Also being installed is a screw conveyor to extract excavated rock from the cutterhead to a sandwich conveyor system with face-to-face rubber belts that help constrain the crushed rock so that it can be transported down the steep slope without spillage.
Additional plant and equipment will also be installed in the ECVT tunnel to support the excavation activities including; an overhead crane, a conveyor transfer station, monorail manrider for personnel access and rack and pinion mechanism for plant access to the TBM,
There is currently a project workforce of more than 2,700 across four major worksites building Snowy 2.0, a critically important, pumped-hydro expansion of the Snowy Scheme that will help underpin Australia’s transition to renewables.
ECVT fast facts
2.93-kilometres in length
10 metres internal diameter
Lined with 1,460 concrete rings with 9 segments per ring installed by TBM Kirsten
Precast segments are manufactured locally in Cooma
ECVT has five cross-passages linking it to the adjacent main access tunnel
Provides secondary access with clean air to the power station complex and will be used permanently for ventilation and high voltage cables, and intermittently for general access and maintenance.
Snowy Hydro Managing Director and CEO Dennis Barnes today announced Snowy 2.0 Project Director Kieran Cusack had resigned to take up a role as Chief Executive Officer of Queensland Hydro, following a 13-year career with Snowy Hydro.
Mr Cusack has been involved in Snowy 2.0 – a critically important, pumped-hydro expansion of the Snowy Scheme that will enable Australia’s transition to renewable energy – since 2017.
Mr Barnes thanked Mr Cusack for his energy, dedication and leadership.
“Kieran was there when the first sod was turned for Snowy 2.0 in 2019, following a rigorous planning and approvals process, and he was integral to the establishment of multiple worksites, growth of the Snowy 2.0 workforce to 2,700 people, as well as the excavation of the first new two tunnels in our iconic Scheme since its construction.
“Kieran has guided Snowy 2.0 through many challenges and his significant contribution to the project is greatly appreciated. The whole team wishes Kieran well and is pleased that he will continue to contribute to Australia’s energy transition,” Mr Barnes said.
Mr Barnes said Snowy 2.0 had a strong talent pipeline and was pleased to appoint Dave Evans, the current Engineering Director, as Project Director.
“Dave has also been integral to this project from the start and he’s passionate about the world-leading innovation behind its construction and the key role it will play in Australia’s energy transition,” Mr Barnes said.
Snowy Hydro extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends and workmates of a man involved in a single vehicle crash on the Snowy Mountains Highway today.
NSW Police has confirmed that the driver of the vehicle, a Snowy 2.0 project truck, did not survive the accident.
Snowy Hydro CEO Dennis Barnes said the incident was incredibly distressing. “This is a tragic event and we are supporting our Snowy 2.0 Principal Contractor, Future Generation Joint Venture (FGJV), our teams and all those impacted in the community at this very sad and difficult time.”
The welfare of Snowy 2.0 workers is our immediate priority and project operations have ceased until the night shift on Tuesday 25 April.
Snowy 2.0 is a critically important, pumped-hydro expansion of the Snowy Scheme that will help underpin Australia’s transition to a renewable energy future.
Construction of Snowy 2.0 continues to make progress across multiple worksites. At Lobs Hole, tunnel boring machine (TBM) Lady Eileen Hudson has completed excavation of the 2.7km main access tunnel and TBM Kirsten is almost finished excavating the adjacent 2.9km emergency, cable and ventilation tunnel (ECVT).
At Tantangara, the project team is currently conducting works to stabilise encountered soft ground and enable TBM Florence to restart excavating the headrace tunnel.
TBM Florence has tunnelled about 150 metres and is currently located at a depth of approximately 30 metres below ground. A surface depression recently emerged in the ground above TBM Florence, which has temporarily delayed progress on this particular worksite. The depression is approximately nine (9) metres deep and continues to be monitored.
Importantly, the integrity of the tunnel, which is supported by a concrete lining and steel ribs, has not been compromised, and nor has the capacity of the TBM. The project team has paused the machine until about 10-15m of weak material in front of it is stabilised, prior to striking hard rock, when we expect normal tunnelling to resume.
Snowy 2.0 principal contractor Future Generation Joint Venture (FGJV) is drilling probe holes through the front of the excavation to understand the ground conditions immediately ahead of the TBM. Grout is injected in front of the excavation to improve any weak zones and limit any water flows. Grouting is well underway from TBM Florence, with 20 grout holes drilled to date in the current location.
FGJV is currently installing a slurry plant for the TBM that will mean the machine can switch from open excavation to a closed, pressurised mode. This will deliver stable excavation and efficient progress through the softer ground conditions, while enabling the TBM to switch back to open mode when in harder rock.
Stage two of the works to stabilise the ground in front and above the machine will involve ground improvement from the surface. Once the area is grouted, the depression will be backfilled and revegetated.
Snowy Hydro has been responsibly operating the Snowy Scheme in Kosciuszko National Park for decades and remains committed to careful and safe management of this tunnelling challenge in a sensitive environment.
The Snowy 2.0 workforce of more than 2,200 is continuing to achieve milestones across a range of work fronts as they build the huge pumped-hydro expansion of the Snowy Scheme.
At Lobs Hole, in the main access tunnel, works are continuing on multiple drill and blast cross tunnels. These will link with the ECVT, where TBM Kirsten has tunnelled 2.8km and has reached the site of the underground power station cavern complex. This is a great milestone for Snowy Hydro as we now have access to the excavation site from both ends of the cavern, which will be one of the largest and deepest in the world.
TBM Kirsten is setting a global standard in tunnel boring technology, just as the original Snowy Scheme developed rock bolting techniques that are still used throughout the world today. The machine will soon be modified to excavate the inclined pressure shaft on a steep uphill angle. Modifications include altering the levels of the TBM’s tanks and mechanical equipment so they are level when travelling up the 25-degree incline, and converting the walkways on the machine’s sides into steps and ladderways.
Meanwhile TBM Lady Eileen Hudson is being reassembled at the Talbingo adit with some new components including a cutterhead and shields. It will be launched into the mountain later this year to excavate the 6km tailrace tunnel, which will feed into Talbingo Reservoir.
Excavation of intakes at Talbingo and Tantangara is advancing steadily, along with the giant surge shaft on the Marica plateau that is already excavated to a depth of more than 20m.
Despite the ongoing challenges faced by all large infrastructure projects, Snowy 2.0 continues to achieve progress across a large number of remote work fronts.
Snowy Hydro remains fully committed to ensuring the local community and stakeholders are kept updated on this pumped-hydro mega project that will provide the National Electricity Market with 2,000 megawatts of on-demand generating capacity and a huge 175 hours of energy storage.
Caption: 3D imagery of surface depression above TBM Florence at Tantangara, created using photogrammetry technology
Caption: Snowy 2.0 project overview.
Caption: Talbingo adit, where TBM Lady Eileen Hudson is being reassembled for excavation of the tailrace tunnel.
SNOWY HYDRO SUPPORT FOR LOCAL COMMUNITY AND SCHOOLS
Grants of up to $10,000 are now available for Snowy Mountains schools and community groups as part of Snowy Hydro’s ongoing commitment to the local region.
In addition to the biannual Community Grants Program, Snowy Hydro has launched an exciting initiative in 2023 – the Local School STEM Fund – to inspire and increase access to STEM-based learning opportunities for the next generation of local innovators.
Snowy Hydro CEO Dennis Barnes said Snowy was dedicated to fostering education opportunities and career pathways for local young people with a focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
“The Local School STEM Fund is a great way to support students in our area by giving them access to more learning and experience-based opportunities. Hopefully this will inspire kids to study further and seek a career in STEM fields, which is good news for Snowy Hydro as a major local employer,” Mr Barnes said.
“The launch of this fund is the latest addition to our ongoing commitment to STEM in the community – we have been been engaging with local schools, parents and children for more than six years with initiatives such as the Science of the Snowy competition, Next Generation Education Hub and, Tunnel Boring Naming Competition, to name a few.”
Applications for the new Local School STEM Fund are open until Friday 3 March. Local schools can apply for funding of up to $10,000 to support science, technology engineering and maths (STEM)-related excursions, student sponsorships, equipment and camps.
Round one of Snowy Hydro’s 2023 Community Grants Program is also open now and accepting applications for funding of up to $10,000 from eligible local organisations and community groups for projects, activities and events.
The application period closes on Wednesday 15 March and all grant applications are assessed against a standard set of criteria. There is a second round of grants available under the program starting in September this year.
Applications for both the Local School STEM Fund (by 3 March) and Community Grants Program (by 15 March) must be completed online via the Snowy Hydro website.
The National Electricity Market (NEM) is in the process of fundamental transformation – from baseload coal with some peaking assets to a complex, highly interconnected system with variable renewable energy backed by firming and storage. Snowy 2.0, with its massive 2,000 megawatts of generation and 350,000 megawatt hours of energy storage, is critical to Australia’s decarbonisation as it will help underpin the rapid transition to a fully renewable future.
Solid construction progress is occurring across a large number of Snowy 2.0 work fronts. At Lobs Hole, the Talbingo intake is well underway, the main access tunnel excavation by tunnel boring machine (TBM) Lady Eileen Hudson is completed and the emergency, cable and ventilation tunnel excavation by TBM Kirsten is close to completion.
Across the project, and as anticipated, the ground conditions encountered by the Snowy 2.0 TBMs are highly variable, ranging from soft, sandy ground to extremely hard rock. TBM Florence at Tantangara has been traversing a section of soft ground and is temporarily paused while plans to remediate a surface depression above the Tantangara adit (as reported on the Snowy Hydro website in December) are finalised.
Complex and variable ground conditions are not unusual in such projects. Snowy Hydro and the Snowy 2.0 EPC contractor, Future Generation Joint Venture, are focused on delivering the project safely and in a manner respectful of the sensitive environment, while managing impacts caused by external events including COVID-19, high material costs, global supply chain constraints, labour shortages across the Australian construction industry and ongoing weather conditions.
Commercial claims on construction projects are also common. As with other major infrastructure projects, Future Generation Joint Venture has experienced significant impacts from COVID, resourcing and supply chain challenges. Claims submitted to Snowy Hydro by the contractor continue to be assessed and paid appropriately, in accordance with contractual requirements.
Snowy Hydro’s BBB+ credit rating was reaffirmed by Standard & Poors in December. The move from stable to negative outlook primarily reflects forecast depressed earnings in FY2023 resulting from the critical role the company played during volatile market conditions in May to June 2022 and the potential project cost escalations for Snowy 2.0 and the Hunter Power Project owing to general market inflation and global supply chain issues. As Snowy’s earnings profiles become more certain, S&P will continue to monitor and assess Snowy’s outlook. At this stage, there are no current plans for any additional Shareholder equity beyond the current arrangements for Snowy 2.0 and Hunter Power Project.
The Snowy 2.0 budget is $5.9 billion and remains unchanged since the project approval. Snowy Hydro will continue to assess inflation and global supply chains moving forward.
SNOWY 2.0 RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECT – FIND OUT MORE!
Snowy 2.0, a huge pumped-hydro expansion of the mighty Snowy Scheme, is at the heart of Australia’s transition to a renewable energy future and this is your chance to find out more about the project at local information sessions.
Snowy Hydro will host the Snowy 2.0 community information sessions starting from Thursday 9 February, providing locals with opportunities to be updated, ask questions and provide feedback.
Hear from the Snowy 2.0 project team about:
Current project activities and news;
Traffic management and road safety initiatives;
Accommodation, recreation access and other local issues;
Jobs and training on Snowy 2.0.
New Snowy Hydro CEO Dennis Barnes said construction of Snowy 2.0 was providing significant economic and social benefits right across the region.
“There are 2,200 people employed on the project and hundreds of millions of dollars are being invested locally, so it continues to be a very exciting time for communities throughout the Snowy Mountains,” Mr Barnes said. “I encourage everyone to come along to one of our sessions to hear the latest about Snowy 2.0, discuss any local concerns that you may have and answer your questions.”
Hosted by Snowy Hydro, the sessions will be attended by representatives from Future Generation Joint Venture, our Snowy 2.0 contractor building Snowy 2.0.
Talbingo and Tumbarumba will be drop-in sessions, with the chance to speak one-on-one with project team members, while there will be a formal presentation followed by community Q&As in Tumut, Cooma and Adaminaby.
Community information sessions schedule:
Thursday 9 February Talbingo shops 11.00am-2.00pm Thursday 9 February Club Tumut 6.00pm-7.30pm Friday 10 February Near Tumbarumba IGA, The Parade 11.00am-2.00pm Tuesday 28 February Cooma Ex-Services Club 6.00pm-7.30pm Wednesday 1 March Adaminaby Bowling Club 6.00pm-7.30pm
APPOINTMENT OF CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER AND MANAGING DIRECTOR
Snowy Hydro is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr Dennis Barnes as Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, effective 1 February 2023.
Chairman David Knox said the Board was delighted to appoint Mr Barnes to the role and is confident that he will continue to strengthen Snowy Hydro’s position as a leading integrated energy generator and retailer.
“We are thrilled to appoint someone of Dennis’ calibre and extensive energy sector experience to lead Snowy Hydro into the future,” Mr Knox said.
“Dennis has over three decades’ experience in the energy sector, with a focus on renewables and retail. His appointment brings a wealth of strategic knowledge and proven capability in delivering strong performance across large energy businesses at an exciting time for Snowy Hydro.”
Mr Barnes was most recently CEO of ASX/NZX-listed Contact Energy, guiding the company through a period of significant change, including the separation from Australian majority shareholder Origin Energy and the completion of a NZ$2billion investment programme encompassing renewable generation and enterprise-wide systems.
Prior to this, Mr Barnes also held several senior executive roles at Origin Energy, including as General Manager, Energy Risk Management and General Manager, Generation Operations; and he currently serves as a non-executive director of Tilt Renewables and Mercury NZ.
“I am excited about the prospect of working with the excellent team at Snowy Hydro, a truly iconic Australian business, at a complex and important time for our entire sector. I am also particularly looking forward to building strong connections with our stakeholders and the communities we serve and operate in, as we address the major issues our sector must focus on,” Mr Barnes said.
The appointment follows a comprehensive local and international executive search process. Roger Whitby, who has been Acting Chief Executive Officer since August will resume his role as Chief Operating Officer.
“I would like to acknowledge and thank Roger for his leadership, commitment and steady guidance during this period of transition for the company,” said Mr Knox.
Dennis Barnes – brief overview of career history
Current: Non-executive director of Mercury Energy NZ and Tilt Renewables.
2011-2020: Chief Executive Officer of Contact Energy, a New Zealand-based electricity generator and retailer.
Completed a $2B investment program in renewable and flexible generation and enterprise-wide systems.
Successfully managed the change in ownership, including listing on the ASX.
Led significant turnaround and several major construction projects.
Optimised the asset portfolio, developing the best geothermal capability in New Zealand and highly innovative retail business.
1998-2011: various senior executive roles at Origin Energy
Prior roles at Scottish Power, Scottish & Southern Energy and Norweb in the United Kingdom
The Snowy Scheme is currently operating around the clock at optimum levels to capture very large inflows and help minimise flood risks and impacts, while still performing its critical role of supporting energy supply to the grid.
Snowy Hydro has been managing significant inflows throughout 2022 and the assets of the Snowy Scheme are performing exceptionally well. Following repeated rainfall events in October and seasonal snowmelt, most of our reservoirs are full, and as more rain falls, we need to release or “spill” the excess water.
In the past week, spills have occured at locations including Guthega, Island Bend, Tooma and Jindabyne dams, where inflows are greater than the available airspace and diversion capacity. Dam safety is paramount and spillways will automatically release water when a storage reaches 100%. Controlled releases have been made from most other storages, including Tumut Pond, Khancoban and Jounama to pass the high inflows.
Total Snowy Scheme storage has increased by over 1,100 gigalitres (GL) in the three months from August to October – this equates to more than twice the volume of Sydney Harbour. Lake Eucumbene, the Scheme’s central storage, has risen by 20%, with flows from all parts of the Scheme being diverted into this long-term storage where possible.
Inflows to Lake Jindabyne cannot be moved into Eucumbene or into the already saturated Snowy-Murray development, so excess inflows can only be released into the Snowy River.
More than 300GL has also been moved away from the Tumut River into Lake Eucumbene over the last three months. Inflows in the Tumut River below Tumut Ponds Dam must also be passed through the system.
Snowy Hydro continues to work closely with WaterNSW and utilise Scheme storage where possible to mitigate flows while flood risks are highest.
For the community the most important message is to stay safe and well informed. The public can stay updated about flood alerts here: