Snowy Hydro today celebrated a major milestone, with commissioning underway for the first tunnel boring machine (TBM) for the Snowy 2.0 project.

The ‘Lady Eileen Hudson’ TBM will soon commence tunnelling for Australia’s largest renewable energy project, the 2,000 megawatt pumped-hydro expansion of the mighty Snowy Scheme.

Named after an important Snowy Scheme ambassador and the wife of inaugural Scheme Commissioner Sir William Hudson, the Lady Eileen Hudson TBM is set to excavate the 2.6km main access tunnel and provide access to the site of the underground power station cavern.

Snowy Hydro CEO Paul Broad joined Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor and representatives from principal contractor Future Generation Joint Venture at the Lobs Hole construction site to inspect the TBM.

Mr Broad said Snowy 2.0 construction had been progressing at a rapid rate.

“The commissioning of the Lady Eileen Hudson TBM is an important milestone for the project and it’s great to see the cutterhead rotate. Tunnelling operations will soon be underway around-the-clock at Lobs Hole, building about 40km of tunnels needed for the project,” Mr Broad said.

“We’ve already got 1,000 people working on Snowy 2,0, including locals from the Snowy Mountains and surrounding areas.

”Overall this project is delivering 4,000 direct jobs and thousands more in the supply chain.

“There are huge economic multiplier effects from our Snowy 2.0 investment, with almost a billion dollars already spent in Australia and more than $55m with 150 Snowy Mountains businesses.

“Snowy 2.0 is critical for the energy market and consumers, and will provide on-demand energy and large-scale storage to underpin Australia’s transition to renewables.”

The Lady Eileen Hudson TBM will excavate two tunnels. Firstly the main access tunnel, and then  it will be relaunched underground to excavate the tailrace tunnel to the Talbingo Reservoir intake – for a total of 7.9km.

Snowy 2.0 project background: Snowy 2.0 will link two existing Snowy Scheme reservoirs, Tantangara and Talbingo, with 27km of waterway tunnels and a power station with six pump-turbines located about 800m underground. Water in the top storage will be released for energy generation at times of peak demand and pumped back at times when there is excess energy in the grid, so Snowy 2.0 is ready to meet demand when needed.