ElectraNet completes SA stretch of EnergyConnect


Construction of Australia’s largest energy transmission project is powering ahead with ElectraNet announcing that it has completed construction of the South Australian section of the $2.3 billion (USD 1.56 billion) EnergyConnect infrastructure project that will link power grids across three states.

ElectraNet said the South Australian (SA) component of the 900-kilometre project, which spans 206 km from Robertstown in SA to the border with New South Wales (NSW), is the largest transmission project is has yet delivered, and includes the installation of the state’s first 330 kV substation at Bundey.

The transmission network operator said the Bundey substation will be critical in enabling power flow between SA and NSW, and provides a connection point for future renewable generation, realising the full potential of EnergyConnect which will link Roberstown to Wagga Wagga in NSW via Buronga in that state’s far west, with an additional ‘spur’ link between Buronga and Red Cliffs in northwest Victoria.

ElectraNet said the project now moves towards its next phase, with inter-network testing of first stage of the new interconnector scheduled to begin following the completion of stage one works on the NSW side by Transgrid by April 2024.

This will enable an initial power transfer capability of up to 150 MW by July 2024. The full transfer capacity of up to 800 MW is expected to be available by mid-2026, post the completion of stage two construction in NSW.

ElectraNet Chief Executive Officer Simon Emms said the project will be transformative for both the SA grid and the broader National Electricity Market (NEM).

Emms said he expects the project will bolster the state’s status as a leader in the transition to a low-carbon economy and enhance its capability to export an abundance of renewable energy resources.

“Project EnergyConnect is already contributing to South Australia’s clean energy future through new renewable energy developments in excess of 2 GW including wind, solar and batteries that are now proposing to connect to the grid,” he said.

Emms also highlighted the economic benefits of the EnergyConnect project, noting anticipated “bill savings of $127 for a typical SA residential power customer and between $6,000 and $18,000 for business customers” once the interconnector is fully operational.

While ElectraNet has delivered the SA component of the EnergyConnect project on time and within budget, Transgrid said construction of the NSW component “is progressing well.”

In its latest update, the NSW network operator said the two synchronous condensers that sit at the heart of the Buronga substation –  the main connection between NSW, SA and Victoria – have now been assembled inside a 1200m2 machine hall.

The 120 MVAR synchronous condensers will now undergo 12 months of ancillary construction, commissioning and testing and are expected to play a key role in keeping the grid stable as EnergyConnect unlocks greater renewable energy sharing between the three states.

It is anticipated construction of EnergyConnect will be completed by mid-2024 with the release of full transfer capability planned by mid-2026.

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