Snowy Hydro and SMEC reunite for Snowy 2.0

Jindabyne Dam as part of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric scheme in New South Wales.

Snowy Hydro and the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation Australia (SMEC) will join forces once again to carry out the feasibility study into the potential expansion of the Snowy Scheme’s pumped hydro storage capability.

Snowy Hydro and SMEC have a long association and worked together from the earliest days to develop the iconic 4100MW Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme.

In March, the Turnbull Government announced the expansion to help ease the country’s energy woes.

The $2 billion project will increase the generation of the Snowy Hydro scheme by 50 per cent, adding 2000MW of renewable energy to the National Electricity Market – enough to power 500,000 thousand homes.

Selected through a tender competitive process that attracted interest from a field of world-class engineering firms, SMEC has been appointed as the lead consultant engineer for the feasibility study into the first major expansion of the scheme since construction days.

“SMEC was the obvious choice to partner with us on the study, given we share the same DNA,” Snowy Hydro CEO Paul Broad said.

“It really is a case of getting the band back together. The task now will be to bring together our best and brightest to revisit some of the visionary proposals developed over many years by the talented men and women who built the scheme.”

The feasibility study will first review existing proposals to expand pumped hydro storage on the Snowy Scheme, many of which have existed since the 1960s.

Under the most prospective proposal, up to 2000MW of hydro-electric energy could be added to the grid to act as rapid response back-up during periods of high demand and fill the gaps in energy supply caused by the growth in intermittent renewables and the exit of thermal baseload power.

The pumped hydro capability means the water utilised for electricity generation can be recycled to provide supply when it’s needed most, with no impact on the scheme’s ability to continue to supply valuable water to irrigators in the food bowl of south eastern Australia.

“This project has the potential to deliver one of the largest pumped hydro schemes in the world and underscores the importance of the scheme’s existing role as the battery of the National Electricity Market,” Mr Broad said.

“While it has long been an Australian engineering icon, the importance of the Snowy Scheme’s role as the battery storage of the NEM will only become more critical as we move to a low carbon economy.

“The reliable, fast-start scheme can help to responsibly manage the exit of baseload thermal power and the rise of intermittent renewables.

“As we move through the feasibility study phase, we will gain greater clarity around the technical and engineering requirements for the expansion as well as costs and timeframes for its construction.”

SMEC CEO Andy Goodwin said the company was honoured to be a part of the project.

“Snowy Mountains are part of our namesake and the backbone of our heritage, so the chance to be involved in this project again is a unique ‘twice-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity, both for our organisation and those engineers who worked on the original scheme,” he said.

“The Snowy 2.0 project will provide us with new design challenges from its predecessor and we’ve created a team of our most experienced specialists to deliver the feasibility stage.”

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