Snowy 2.0

Progress

Snowy 2.0 timeline

1949
2023

Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority (SMHEA) established

7 JULY 1949 – Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority (SMHEA) established

Commonwealth Parliament passed the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Act 1949 which established the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority (SMHEA), the construction body for the Snowy Scheme, with William Hudson (later Sir William Hudson) selected as the first Commissioner to head up the ambitious development.

Snowy 2.0 project announced

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. 

Geotechnical investigation program

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. 

Feasibility study released

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

Final Investment Decision

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,

Exploratory Works approved

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.  

Project construction underway

Under early works contractor Leed Engineering, access road upgrades and other site preparation activities began at Lobs Hole.

Principal contractor appointed

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.

Site works progress

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.

Construction of segment factory

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.

Main Works approvals granted

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,

Construction power

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.

Joule Ridge accommodation

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.

Tunnelling

Our first tunnel boring machine, the Lady Eileen Hudson, is on the move. Named after an important Snowy Scheme ambassador and the wife of inaugural Scheme Commissioner Sir William Hudson, the Lady Eileen Hudson TBM is excavating the 2.6km main access tunnel down to the underground power station cavern. The TBM is 137 metres long and has an 11m diameter – as high as a three-storey building.

TBMs named

We are excited to announce the winning names for our final two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) – Kirsten and Florence.

Students in the Snowy Mountains nominated groundbreaking Australian women in science, technology engineering and maths (STEM) for the Snowy 2.0 TBM Naming Competition. 

Almost 3,000 people voted on a shortlist of six influential women, with astrophysicist Kirsten Banks and Australia’s first electrical engineer Florence Violet McKenzie receiving majority votes.

Manufacturing of segments

At the Polo Flat segment factory – which will produce more than 130,000 seven-tonne concrete segments to line the Snowy 2.0 tunnels – the construction of two automatic carousels is close to completion and there’s about 100 people working onsite.

TBM Kirsten commissioning

On 3 December 2021, we commissioned our second tunnel boring machine (TBM), Kirsten. It was an exciting moment for TBM namesake, Australian astrophysicist and Wiradjuri woman Kirsten Banks, and 10-year-old Brungle student Kobe Burnes, who nominated Kirsten as part of the Snowy 2.0 TBM Naming Competition.

Tantangara works

Good progress continues to be made at Tantangara (eastern end of the Snowy 2.0 project), with the headrace tunnel adit and tunnel boring machine cradle almost complete. Other works underway include the cofferdam, concrete batch plant and water treatment plant, and worker camp.

TBM Florence community event

On 22 March, the local community came together to celebrate the commissioning of tunnel boring machine (TBM) Florence. Named after Australia’s first female electrical engineer, Florence Violet McKenzie (1890-1982), TBM Florence is set to excavate about 15 kilometres of the 17km headrace tunnel. TBM Florence was named by local Berridale student Riley Douch who along with his family visited Tantangara today for the TBM commissioning community event.

Milestone first tunnel excavation completed

Snowy Hydro is celebrating the completion of excavation for its first tunnel for Snowy 2.0, with the Lady Eileen Hudson tunnel boring machine (TBM) reaching the location of the new underground power station cavern. The 11-metre diameter TBM has excavated 2.85km to create the main access tunnel at Lobs Hole in the Snowy Mountains, where a workforce of more than 2,200 people are building Snowy 2.0 – the 2,200 megawatt pumped hydro expansion of the mighty Snowy Scheme.

Second tunnel excavated for Snowy 2.0

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.