A proposal to expand the Snowy Scheme and deliver 2,200MW of generation and 350,000MW/h of large-scale storage was announced in early 2017.
The iconic Snowy Scheme’s role as the battery of the National Electricity Market (NEM) would be ‘supercharged’ as part of plans to expand its pumped-hydro storage capability.
It would provide a clean-energy solution to the critical security and supply issues in the NEM and recycle water utilised for electricity generation. In this way it would give continuous supply when at times of peak demand, with no impact on the Scheme’s water release obligations.
A feasibility study was commissioned to explore the physical, technical and environmental requirements for expansion of pumped-hydro at sites across the Scheme. The study also looked at the potential output of new facilities and the costs associated with the project.
An extensive core hole drilling program was carried out to collect data on rock types across the Snowy 2.0 alignment. This information was collated to inform the project’s feasibility study.
The rock samples – or cores – provided geologists with a solid understanding of the geological and hydrogeological conditions. The work also identified physical properties of the existing rock.
This geotechnical program is the key to developing a final, buildable design for the Snowy 2.0 underground tunnels and power station.
The Snowy 2.0 Feasibility Study confirmed the project is technically and financially feasible.
The feasibility study also showed the key benefits of Snowy 2.0:
• System security and reliability – Snowy 2.0’s on-demand energy generation can respond within minutes to changing market needs
• Lower energy prices – wholesale energy costs will be lower with Snowy 2.0 in the market
• Scale and central location – power from Snowy 2.0 will reach all National Electricity Market (NEM) users, including the major load centres of Sydney and Melbourne
• Supporting renewables – Snowy 2.0 will enable a low emissions future at least cost by underpinning the stability of the NEM as more intermittent renewables enter the market
The Snowy Hydro Board approved a Final Investment Decision to proceed with Snowy 2.0.
Following almost two years of due diligence on every aspect of the project, the Board is confident Snowy 2.0 is a strong investment for Snowy Hydro.
The comprehensive appraisal included detailed financial analysis and ongoing geotechnical drilling,
Approval for Snowy 2.0 Exploratory Works was granted by the NSW Government in February 2019.
The approval followed a rigorous planning and environmental planning assessment process.
Snowy Hydro committed to providing $10.5 million in offsets for any impacts associated with the Exploratory Works.
Activities approved as part of Exploratory Works included building new site access roads and upgrading other roads and tracks.
It also covered excavation of an exploratory tunnel down to the site of the underground power station cavern, establishment of a site compound and other site works.
Under early works contractor Leed Engineering, access road upgrades and other site preparation activities began at Lobs Hole.
Future Generation Joint Venture, a partnership between Webuild (formerly Salini Impregilo), Clough and Lane, was appointed by Snowy Hydro to build Snowy 2.0.
Future Generation is leading the civil works and subcontractor Voith Hydro will deliver the latest hydro-generation technology in the new underground power station.
Significant progress continued to be made at Lobs Hole.
Permanent bridges over the Yarrangobilly River and Wallace Creek were constructed to enable safe access and protect riverbanks.
Works to build the the exploratory (main access) tunnel portal and temporary accommodation camps were also underway.
More than 130,000 concrete tunnel segments for Snowy 2.0 will be manufactured locally as part of Snowy 2.0.
Construction of the Snowy 2.0 concrete segment factory at Polo Flat, Cooma, was completed in 2020.
Earthworks were followed by concrete pours for slabs. Shed frames were also installed, followed by cladding, roofing and shed fitout.
Planning and environmental approvals were received for Snowy 2.0 Main Works from both the NSW and Federal Governments.
These approvals allow construction to start on the project’s underground power station, waterways and access tunnels, and other supporting infrastructure.
It brings Snowy Hydro’s vision to become Australia’s biggest battery and storage for renewable energy one step closer.
It also unlocks investment that will create thousands of jobs over the life of the project and provide a much-needed boost to the local and regional economy,
The Ravine substation at Lobs Hole has been built to power the tunnel boring machines and other construction activities.
The substation, operated by TransGrid, will also power the accommodation camps. It has been commissioned and is now operational.
Construction is now underway for a 126-bed accommodation development in Cooma to house Snowy 2.0 workers, including some of those working at the Polo Flat Segment Factory, the Future Generation Joint Venture office and other local areas. Known as Joule Ridge, the accommodation investment is another significant contribution by Snowy Hydro to the local region’s economy and supports the thousands of jobs created by Snowy 2.0. With up to 140 modular units, Joule Ridge will provide accommodation (90 single rooms and 36 self-contained units), communal facilities, parking and landscaping.