Local Snowy Hydro 2.0 concrete segment factory reaches an impressive milestone

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Snowy 2.0 precast factory in Cooma has completed manufacturing for over 25,000 concrete segments that will line the dry access tunnels.

Snowy 2.0 is a nation-building project that will underpin thousands of megawatts of renewables and will continue to keep the lights on for generations to come.

The Snowy Hydro 2.0 project is working towards increasing the use of sustainably produced energy across Australia. Hydropower is considered one of the oldest forms of renewable energy and is Australia’s largest renewable energy source. However, it still only supplies five to seven per cent of Australia’s total electricity supply.

Read more about the Snowy 2.0 Project here

More than 25,000 of these seven-tonne segments have been produced at the Polo Flat factory, which employs 120 people from the 2,100-strong Snowy 2.0 workforce. The segments are being used to line the main access tunnel and emergency, cable and ventilation tunnel at Lobs Hole.

In total, 36,000 or 27% of the 130,000-plus segments needed to line all of the Snowy 2.0 tunnels have now come off the Polo Flat production line, said Paul Broad, Snowy Hydro’s Managing Director and CEO.

“We’re proud to be manufacturing and investing locally and providing employment opportunities for local people as well,” Mr Broad said. “The precast factory is operated by our principal contractor Future Generation Joint Venture, powering along.

“To efficiently and safely produce enough of these massive concrete segments to line the 5.6 kilometres of dry access tunnels is a terrific achievement.”

The factory supports the operation of the three Snowy 2.0 tunnel boring machines, excavating 27 kilometres of tunnels from Tantangara Reservoir to Talbingo Reservoir for the Snowy 2.0 pumped-hydro expansion of the Snowy Scheme.

The Polo Flat facility includes a concrete batching plant and segment manufacturing from two automated carousels, producing up to 24 rings, each made of nine segments, per day.

Many raw materials like aggregates and sand are sourced from the local Schmidt Quarries at Mt Mary and Nimmitabel, reducing transport time and costs. Concrete is mixed within the batching plant, then transferred into the factory and poured into specially-designed moulds. 

With innovative robotics, the moulds progress along the carousel as the segments cure and finish. There is an onsite laboratory and testing to check the quality of every segment produced.

Snowy 2.0 is leading the way in Australia to successfully deploy and use robots to automate the process of demoulding, cleaning and applying the release agent on the moulds before pushing them through to the next production stage. This has allowed the factory to maintain a safe and low-noise working environment for workers. 

It takes approximately eight to 10 hours to cure and de-mould each segment from start to finish; then, they are stored for about two weeks before being transported to the site, loaded into TBMs and installed in the tunnels.

Fast facts – Dry tunnel segments

  • Number produced = 25,210
  • Distance if all these segments were placed side-by-side = 86.3 kilometres
  • Tonnes of concrete used = 151,260
  • Equivalent rings (nine segments per ring) = 2,802
  • These segments – designed to provide durability under extreme fire loads – have been laboratory tested for fire loads of 1,350 degrees Celsius for up to 120 minutes.

Background

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

Source: © 2020 Snowy Hydro Limited. 

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