Government approves Snowy 2.0 for New South Wales, Australia

The Government of the Australian state of New South Wales has approved the main construction works for the 2 GW Snowy 2.0 pumped-storage project.

Construction work is set to go ahead in the coming months on the expansion of the Snowy Mountains hydropower complex, pending final approval by the Federal Government, according to a an NSW Government statement on 21 May.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said planning approval for the Snowy 2.0 Main Works would pave the way for new jobs and major investment for the state. “Snowy Hydro is an icon of our community, with Snowy 2.0 already employing about 500 people, directly injecting more than A$ 35 million into the Snowy Mountains and involving more than 100 local businesses,” Barilaro said. “This latest approval will see the creation of an extra 2000 jobs during the construction phase, unlock billions of investment in regional NSW and allow the next stage of construction to progress this legacy project.”

The project, which will use an existing upper dam (Tantangara) and existing lower dam (Talbingo) of the 4.1 GW complex, will involve the construction of about 27 km of concrete lined underground tunnels, to depths of up to 1 km, to link the two reservoirs of Tantangara and Talbingo with a new underground power station to be built between them. Intake and outlet structures will be built at both reservoirs. First power from Snowy 2.0 is expected in 2024.

The civil and electro-mechanical works for the Snowy 2.0 project are to be carried out by Future Generation, a joint venture of Salini Impregilo and Clough, under an AU$ 5.1 billion (US$ 3.62 billion) contract awarded in April 2019 (see H&D Issue 3, 2019). The electrical and mechanical components are to be supplied by Voith under a contract also signed last April with the Future Generation Joint Venture. The order comprises the supply of six reversible pump turbines, each with a rated output of 333 MW, three of which are variable-speed, as well as six motor generators, the auxiliary systems and the complete powerplant automation.

The Snowy 2.0 project is designed to add 2 GW of on-demand generation and 350 GWh of energy storage, providing 175 hours of continuous storage for the National Electricity Market, in the process facilitating the further development of renewable energy.

NSW’s Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes said the project’s approval includes strict conditions to minimize and offset environmental impacts. “The project’s approval also requires Snowy Hydro to invest almost A$ 100 million for biodiversity and environmental offsets to protect threatened species and deliver long-term conservation and recreational benefits for the Kosciuszko National Park,” he said. As part of the approval, the proponent will be required to invest A$ 5 million to develop a captive breeding programme for the threatened Stocky Galaxias and Macquarie Perch, install fish-screens to minimize the risk of transfer of pest species downstream, develop an app to share information gathered for the project with visitors of the national park, and restore native vegetation and threatened species habitat once construction infrastructure is decommissioned.