Commissioning is underway on the first tunnel boring machine (TBM) for Australia’s largest renewable energy project, Snowy 2.0, in preparation for the imminent commencement of boring. The TBM is named the ‘Lady Eileen Hudson’ TBM after the wife of inaugural Scheme Commissioner Sir William Hudson who was an important Snowy Scheme ambassador.

The TBM, built by German equipment manufacturer Herrenknecht AG, was shipped to Port Kembla and transported to Lobs Hole where it was assembled on site. This involved craning the 400 tonne cutter head, which consists of 66 cutter discs, into position on the front of the machine.

A structural steel thrust frame is installed at the launch site from which the TBM off which the TBM will use hydraulic jacks to make its way underground. Four TBM gantries are assembled and ready to be installed as the TBM progresses.

Assembly also included the assembly of the conveyor drive station, vertical belt storage tower and preparation of the control room. The TBM is connected to power from the ravine substation. 

An on-site event was held to mark the TBM’s commissioning, attended by Snowy Hydro CEO Paul Broad, Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor and representatives from principal contractor Future Generation Joint Venture - consisting of Webuild (formerly Salini Impregilo), Clough and Lane.

“Tunnelling operations will soon be underway around-the-clock at Lobs Hole, building about 40km of tunnels needed for the project,” Mr Broad said.

“We’ve already got 1,000 people working on Snowy 2,0, including locals from the Snowy Mountains and surrounding areas.”

The Lady Eileen Hudson TBM will excavate two tunnels. Firstly the main access tunnel, and then  it will be relaunched underground to excavate the tailrace tunnel to the Talbingo Reservoir intake – for a total of 7.9km.

Meanwhile, works are underway on the emergency cable and ventilation tunnel portal (ECVT). Major earthworks are underway including drill and blasts works to loosen the earth before the excavation of 330,000 cubic metres of material.

Preparation is underway for the second of the 3 Snowy 2.0 TBM’s to be launched from this site.

Snowy 2.0 will link two existing Snowy Scheme reservoirs, Tantangara and Talbingo, with 27km of waterway tunnels and a power station with six pump-turbines located about 800m underground. Water in the top storage will be released for energy generation at times of peak demand and pumped back at times when there is excess energy in the grid, so Snowy 2.0 is ready to meet demand when needed.