The Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme is an icon of the Australian power industry, generating on average 4,500 gigawatts of clean and renewable energy. That’s the equivalent to nearly 1/3 of Australia’s total renewable energy production, an incredible statistic for a facility which was initially completed in 1974.

In total the Snowy Hydro scheme incorporates seven power stations, 16 dams, 145 km of tunnels and 80 km of aqueducts.

Initial Scope:

Snowy Hydro planned to use an existing monorail system to refurbish the draft tube gates and winches at an underground turbine. An initial site inspection and assessment found the monorail flanges were bending and it would not meet the Australian Standards.

As there was a risk that the gate would fall into the turbine water stream, SOTO assisted with the design of a temporary lifting beam to support the gate for maintenance and allow the turbine to be placed back into operation.

Bent monorail flange



SOTO worked with Snowy Hydro to provide a complete redesign of the monorail systems for the four turbines. This included a lifting study, engineering, detail and arrangement drawings, inspection and test plans, and commissioning testing. The design was complicated by the limited head-height and room to manoeuvre the 5m x 2m gates around significant pipework.

The project solution was a complete redesign of the draft tube monorail system for the four turbines including:

  • Inspection and assessment of the existing monorail system
  • Site measurements to allow for easy installation
  • Design of a temporary lifting beam
  • Lifting studies to show how to remove the 5 x 2m gate with low headroom
  • General arrangement and detail drawings for 19 monorail sections and supports
  • Engineering calculation report and certification
  • Engineering design risk assessment
  • Testing requirements
  • Winch frame support stand

Image of temporary lifting beam designed by SOTO


SOTO Engineers are proud to be associated closely with a project of such standout importance to Australian energy. By working with Snowy Hydro, SOTO was able to quickly provide a solution to support the draft tube gate and restart the turbine safely. Significant site measurements and design for adjustability allowed for relatively easy installation of the monorail system. This will allow safe removal of the draft tube gates for years to come.


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  By working with Snowy Hydro, SOTO was able to quickly provide a solution to support the draft tube gate and restart the turbine safely.