Snowy 2.0 Pumped Hydro Project Back on Track After Planning Approval

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The Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro project is back on track after the NSW government approved a planning modification that allowed tunneling to resume. The $12 billion project located in the Snowy Mountains aims to expand pumped hydro capacity by 2 GW and provide much needed energy storage capabilities to the National Electricity Market (NEM).

Tunneling had to be suddenly stopped in late December as one of the tunnel boring machines – a 2000 tonne, 143-metre long marvellous mechanical machine called Florence hit unexpectedly very soft and moist soil. Subsidence resulted from the difficult conditions thus, a sudden appearance of a large-sized sinkhole. This was above the place where the tunneling was done in Kosciuszko national park. However, Snowy Hydro has just begun excavating slurry through tunnel method after securing the necessary licensure.

Though the progress may seem slow at present, Dennis Barnes reassured that his organization still stands firm to ensure extraordinary environmental results in Snowy 2.0 construction. According to Barnes, “we realize that we work in an extremely sensitive alpine area”.

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Revised Tunneling Plan Gets Snowy 2.0 Pumped Hydro Expansion Back in Motion

So what exactly makes Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro project worth all the engineering effort in Australia’s high country wilderness? In short – the promise of energy security in a renewable world. Already years behind schedule, the project aims to supercharge the capabilities of the existing Snowy Hydro Scheme. Adding 350 GWh of storage and an immense 2000 megawatts of on-demand generating capacity. For context, that’s enough flexibility to power around 500,000 homes even when the sun isn’t shining and wind isn’t blowing.

And Snowy 2.0 is not alone in the tunneling task. While Florence gingerly navigates new terrain under heightened vigilance, Lady Eileen – another custom-built tunneler – has been actively chewing through rock to create the vital new underground tailrace at Talbingo Dam since July 2022.

So despite the long road ahead, momentum is steadily building to realize the Snowy Scheme’s ambitious pumped hydro expansion. Once the grandeur of the Snowy Mountains concealed a bold nation-building vision. Today, these same peaks watch over a new generation of engineers and workers striving to safeguard Australia’s energy future. One shovel of rock and shutter of concrete at a time.