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TBM assembly begins for Australia’s biggest hydro scheme

3 Nov 20 Components for the first of three tunnel-boring machines (TBMs) have arrived on site for work on a hydro scheme in Australia’s Snowy Mountains.

Webuild and its joint-venture partners are building Snowy 2.0 - the largest renewable energy project in Australia – for client Snowy Hydro.

The 137m-long, 11m-diameter TBM will descend at an angle of 9% to excavate 2,660m of tunnel to where a cavern will be dug to house the power plant.

The first shipments of the TBM components – the front shield, gear ring probe drill and main seal – were loaded onto long trailers hauled by heavy trucks from Port Kembla. They passed through the town of Cooma in the Snowy Mountains to arrive at Lobs Hole, where excavation of the main access tunnel is to begin.

The main drive, the TBM’s heaviest component at 174 tonnes, has also been delivered to the site.

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Webuild leads the Future Generation joint venture with its US subsidiary Lane Construction and local partner Clough. The team will also excavate the waterways, access tunnels and other supporting infrastructure with the other two TBMs, which are to arrive on site in the coming months.

The joint venture is also building access roads and camp accommodation for workers and has excavated the main access tunnel portal in the Snowy Mountains. In Cooma, it is building a precast factory to produce 130,500 concrete segments that will line the 40km of tunnels to be excavated.

More than 500 people and 100 local businesses are currently involved in the project, with about 4,000 jobs expected to be created during the life of the project. There is also the potential for many more jobs to be created in the region through supply chains and support services.

Snowy 2.0 will provide an additional 2,000MW of energy and provide 350,000MWh hours of storage, enough to power the equivalent of 500,000 homes for over a week during peak demand. It is designed to reduce volatility in the market, support reliability and bring down power prices. The Snowy scheme already generates about a third of the renewable energy in Australia’s National Electricity Market.

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