“Eyes now of NSW” as states move on solar, storage

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New South Wales, like Victoria and South Australia before it, is set to see large coal generators retire, new generation sources will have to be developed. With nothing to replace the Renewable Energy Target (RET) in the coming years, state based renewable targets and tenders are becoming increasingly commonplace.

On the distributed front, ambitious solar and storage programs too are being advanced in Victoria, the ACT and South Australia.

The NSW Berejiklian Government has proven pretty adept at making the right sounds when it comes to renewable energy, but not doing much by way of substantive policy. As it heads towards March 23, 2019 election, and with programs capturing headlines and enticing investment at neighboring states, the ‘all-talk’ strategy may be becoming exhausted.

“Many eyes are now turning to NSW government,” says Leonard Quong, a Senior Associate at Bloomberg NEF. The fact that the Victorian renewable tender exceeded expectations in terms of price and contracted capacity will likely increase pressure on NSW policymakers to ensure the development does not occur elsewhere.

“They [Victoria] overachieved on their initial ambition, most likely because of the low cost renewables they actually saw come through the process. This will probably put pressure or could work in the favor of other state governments that are considering putting in similar auction schemes themselves – we’ve already seen the ACT, and of course Queensland,” said Quong.

Never one to back down from getting stuck in the politics of solar, the Smart Energy Council’s John Grimes believes that a potential change of government in NSW would result in an “absolute transformation of the energy sector” in the state.

“Until now, NSW has been the laggard when it comes to transitioning to renewable energy. Other states are moving. The community is moving. And the closer you get to the reality of people’s lives, local governments, community groups, they are all absolutely behind the transition and will drive the transition,” says Grimes.