Construction of a new $2.3 billion power interconnector that will link the energy networks of South Australia and New South Wales is set to begin early this year after the government approved the Australia’s environmental impact statement for the project.
The EnergyConnect project, which is expected to unlock more than $20 billion in new renewable projects in South Australia (SA) and New South Wales (NSW), is one step closer to fruition, with construction expected to start early this year after the South Australian component of the project received environmental clearance from the state government.
A joint venture between SA high-voltage transmission grid owner ElectraNet and NSW grid operator Transgrid, the SA component of the high-voltage power interconnector between the two states was granted environmental approval at the end last month, three years after the start of the evaluation process.
ElectraNet chief executive Steve Masters said the South African government’s decision was a significant step, with only the federal government’s approval of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) required to complete the approval process. Evaluation.
Masters said if the federal government ticks the project, construction could begin early this year with the new line expected to be in service in 2023.
“We started the evaluation process in 2018, undertaking extensive consultation with the many stakeholders interested in our project and (this) marks another milestone for the project,” he said.
“As part of the EIA process, detailed environmental, cultural, social and technical studies were undertaken to select a proposed route, collect baseline data and understand stakeholder views.
“Our final approved route takes into account environmentally sensitive areas and we have engaged with all affected communities to minimize project impacts.”
The 900 kilometer high voltage transmission interconnector will run from Robertstown in north central South Africa to Wagga Wagga in New South Wales via Buronga with an additional line between Buronga and Red Cliffs, Victoria.
It is expected that the 330 kV interconnector, which has been identified as a priority project in the AEMO Integrated System Plan and in the New South Wales Government’s Transmission Infrastructure Strategy, will enhance the security of the electrical system and will unlock up to 30 new wind and solar projects totaling nearly 5.3 GW. .
ElectraNet confirmed in June that it had made a final investment decision to go ahead with the SA section of the Robertstown Interconnector to the NSW border, at an estimated cost of $457 million.
Transgrid won government approval for the first stage of the much longer 900km connector section on the NSW side in September. Transgrid’s share of the deal is estimated at $1.8 billion.
Transgrid said the project will be the “essential missing link in the National Electricity Market (NEM), connecting more renewable energy generation and boosting connectivity between state grids in NSW, SA and Victoria”.
The EIS approval for the SA component of the power interconnection comes after ElectraNet awarded the transmission and substation contracts for its portion of the project.
Downer Utilities Australia has been awarded the transmission lines contract with works comprising around 200km of new 330kV transmission line between the SA and NSW border and the new Bundey substation near Robertstown, and around 10km of new transmission line between Robertstown and Bundey substations.
The substation works, including construction of the new Bundey facility and augmentation works at the existing Robertstown and Tungkillo substations, have been awarded to high voltage infrastructure specialist Consolidated Power Projects Australia.
“Both entrepreneurs have already made extensive commitments to the market and this will continue over the coming months,” Masters said.
With the contractors now nominated, ElectraNet has also set up a page for contractors to register their interest through the industry capacity network with information to share with successful project contractors.
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