South Australia’s high-voltage transmission network owner ElectraNet has announced construction of the South Australian (SA) section of the 900-kilometre Project EnergyConnect, which will link the energy grids of SA, New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria, is now underway with the first of an estimated 380 new transmission towers installed at Robertstown in the state’s mid-north.
The $2.28 billion EnergyConnect project, a joint venture between ElectraNet and NSW network operator Transgrid, will link Robertstown and Wagga Wagga in southwest NSW via Buronga, with an extension linking Buronga to Red Cliffs in northwest Victoria. The interconnector will provide 800MW of nominal transfer capacity in both directions and is forecast to unlock some 5.3GW of new wind, solar PV and energy storage projects.
ElectraNet, which has invested $457.4 million to deliver the SA section of the project, said the first two transmission poles were installed at Robertstown on Tuesday.
An estimated 380 transmission towers will be erected as part of the SA section of the project, along with approximately 200 kilometres of 330 kV new transmission line between the SA and NSW border. The SA component of the project will also include the construction of a new substation at Bundey and upgrades to existing substations at Robertstown and Tungkillo.
Downer Utilities Australia has been awarded the transmission lines contract and Consolidated Power Projects Australia has secured the substations contract.
ElectraNet interim chief executive Rainer Korte said the installation of the first towers is a “significant milestone” for the project.
“Project EnergyConnect is a key project of national significance that will help improve the affordability, reliability and security of electricity supply for South Australians and strengthen the National Electricity Market (NEM),” he said.
“The new transmission line will connect SA and NSW, allowing for the sharing of energy between the states.
“Its route passes through high-quality renewable energy zones (REZ), facilitating the transition of more renewable energy into the National Electricity Market. In South Australia, the new interconnector will enable more wind, solar and battery projects to connect to the network.”
The commencement of construction of the SA section comes just weeks after TransGrid said it had begun early works on the NSW component of the interconnector.
Transgrid, which has committed $1.83 billion to the project, will deliver the bulk of the interconnector, approximately 700km of transmission assets.
Identified as a priority project in both AEMO’s Integrated System Plan and the NSW Government’s Transmission Infrastructure Strategy, the EnergyConnect project is expected to improve energy security in both states and help accelerate the transition to a grid based around wind, solar and storage.
“This is a project that was first conceived 20 years ago,” SA Energy Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said. “To see the work actually start, work that will allow us to generate even more renewable electricity and of course provide greater grid stability … is fantastic.”
Construction work on the SA section of the new interconnector is expected to be completed in late 2023. It is expected to generate more than 200 regional jobs and once completed, approximately 250 ongoing jobs.
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