Transgrid reaches major milestone on $2.3 billion ‘energy superhighway’


New South Wales transmission network owner Transgrid has confirmed that the first transmission towers have been erected on the $1.8 billion New South Wales (NSW) section of the 900-kilometre EnergyConnect project that will link the power grids of NSW, South Australia and Victoria for the first time, supporting the development of new wind, solar and energy storage projects.

The EnergyConnect project, a joint venture between Transgrid and South Australian (SA) network operator ElectraNet, will link Wagga Wagga in southwest NSW to Robertstown in SA via Buronga, with an additional ‘spur’ link between Buronga and Red Cliffs in northwest Victoria.

The high-voltage interconnector will provide 800 MW of nominal transfer capacity in both directions and is forecast to unlock some 5.3 GW of new renewable energy projects.

Transgrid and its construction partner SecureEnergy, a 50/50 joint venture between Perth-based engineering and construction company Clough Group and Spanish infrastructure giant Elecnor, are building the 700km NSW section of the project from Wagga Wagga to the South Australian border, and the connection to Red Cliffs.

Construction crews have erected the first guyed transmission towers at Buronga. Unlike conventional self-supporting towers, which stand on four legs, guyed towers comprise a central mast held in place by four steel cables. The technology requires about 15% less steel and 25% less concrete in construction than traditional towers.

Transgrid Chief Executive Officer Brett Redman said the raising of the first transmission towers is a “significant milestone in building the energy superhighway to accelerate the nation’s clean energy future.”

“We are getting on with the job of delivering the critical infrastructure needed to provide Australian households and businesses with cheaper, more reliable and sustainable energy,” he said.

About 4,000 cubic metres of material was moved and compacted to create the ‘bench’ for the Buronga substation expansion.

Image: Transgrid

Transgrid said works are also progressing well on the expansion of the Buronga substation, which will become the main hub for energy sharing between the three states. The substation will eventually house two 120 MVA capacity synchronous condensers, five phase-shifting transformers, three power transformers and four shunt reactors.

Redman said earthworks on the substation bench are now complete, with concrete foundations being poured to hold the synchronous condensers and transformers.

“The 16-hectare expansion of the Buronga substation is the equivalent of 20 football fields and, once operational, it will be one of the largest and most complex substations in the Southern Hemisphere,” he said.

Transgird expects the EnergyConnect project will generate up to 1,500 jobs, primarily in regional NSW, and contribute $4 billion in net economic benefits.

ElectraNet is also progressing works on the SA section of the EnergyConnect project, having commenced construction of an estimated 380 transmission towers that will be erected as part of its section of the project, in early 2022.

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.

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