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Huge tunnel boring machine gets to work in Australia

by Sion Geschwindt
Tunnel boring machine launched on Australian clean energy megaproject

Italian construction firm Webuild has launched its second tunnel boring machine (TBM) on Australia’s Snowy 2.0 – a pumped-storage scheme that is the largest renewable energy project in the country.

The TBM, dubbed ‘Kirsten’, was built by Germany’s Herrenknecht AG in collaboration with Webuild, specifically for use on Snowy 2.0.

Kirsten’s diameter is approximately 11m and it is 205m in length, making it one of the biggest in the world.

The TDM will do more than 6km of tunnelling, as it bores the emergency, cable, and ventilation tunnel, the inclined pressure shaft, and 2km of the head race tunnel.

Snowy 2.0 is a hydroelectricity complex being built by Future Generation – a joint venture between Webuild, Australian firm Clough, and an American subsidiary of Webuild called Lane Construction.

The goal is to link the higher Tantangara Reservoir with the lower Talbingo Reservoir via tunnels through the Snowy Mountains.

There will be a hydro-electric power station almost 1km underground between the two reservoirs, creating green energy as the water passes.

Furthermore, the turbines will be reversible and able to push water back upwards, meaning the same water will be pumped back and forth all the time, allowing for hydro-electricity to be created on demand ­– even during droughts.

Once complete, Snowy 2.0 will provide 2,000MW of fast-start dispatchable energy and provide 350,000MWh of large scale storage, for use at peak times.

Image: Inauguration of ‘Kirsten’ TDM (Credit: Snowy 2.0)


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