Clough, in a joint venture with Spanish infrastructure development group Elecnor called SecureEnergy, was yesterday selected as contractor for the $1.5 billion NSW-SA Interconnector Project Energy Connect (PEC) being built by TransGrid and ElectraNet.
The 900km, 330kV PEC is set to connect the SA and NSW power grids for the first time, linking Robertstown (SA) and Wagga Wagga (NSW) via Red Cliffs (Victoria). The project is integral to the Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) Integrated System Plan (ISP) and indeed integral therefore to the future of Australia’s energy system which needs extensive transmission expansion to properly integrate renewable energies. Indeed, as TransGrid CEO Paul Italiano put it last week, “Recent modelling by AEMO has shown that SA faces a very serious risk of system instability as a result of high renewable penetration and low grid loads and that this risk will be substantially addressed by EnergyConnect.”
Moreover, it will “lower NSW electricity bills by increasing competition in the wholesale electricity market,” continued Italiano, “and will also create a more secure system that is resilient at times of high demand and in periods of extreme weather… it (PEC) has significant benefits for the National Electricity Market (NEM) and for energy customers in both NSW and SA in particular.”
“Recent modelling by the Australian Energy Market Operator has shown that SA faces a very serious risk of system instability as a result of high renewable penetration and low grid loads and that this risk will be substantially addressed by EnergyConnect.”
The Clough Elecnor 50/50 joint venture will deliver the engineering, procurement and construction of the TransGrid portion of the Project, the NSW side of the job, which includes 4 substations and approximately 700km of transmission line. Clough’s CEO and Managing Director, Peter Bennett, said that “The Australian energy sector is undergoing development of the infrastructure that will sustain it through the future growth of our nation.”
Bennett went on to praise new partner Elecnor with a keenness for the company’s “enviable track record globally in delivering high voltage transmission projects”.
Elecnor is one of the world’s leading EPC contractors, which was only last month appointed EPC on Australia’s biggest hybrid solar and energy storage project, the 720 MW New England Solar Farm and potential 400 MW battery energy storage system. And is also working with compatriot company Iberdrola, on its similarly impressive Port Augusta Project in South Australia.
Joseph de Pedro, Elecnor Australia Managing Director, said that the joint venture’s entrance into Australia’s Power Transmission sector “represents a big milestone for the industry and will help in bringing more innovation and know-how to the market as well as upskilling the Australian workforce to support the upcoming electricity network transformation.”
The importance of PEC to the entire NEM has been emphasised by its fast-tracking on all levels. The NSW Government has already declared it a Critical State Significant Infrastructure project, and the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) gave the project its tick of approval back in January.
PEC is expected to take approximately two years to build, but large scale solar projects are already lining up to make good use of the interconnector. Earlier this month, Green Gold Energy proposed a 185 MW and a 120 MW solar farm within 50km of each other at the South Australian end of the proposed PEC.
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