NSW to upgrade grid for more renewables

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Looking to ensure an orderly transition of the energy sector over the next two decades, New South Wales has devised a plan to leverage up to $23 billion of private investment in renewable energy held back by grid capacity constraints. 

“For every 20 projects looking to connect only one can. So it’s time to change that,” said NSW Minister for Energy, Don Harwin.

The goal of the government’s grid strategy, called the NSW Transmission Infrastructure Strategy, is to boost the interconnection with Victoria, South Australia and Queensland, and unlock more power from the Snowy Hydro Scheme – the plan that aligns with the AEMO’s Integrated System Plan

The strategy will prioritize the three Energy Zones in the state’s New England, Central-West and South-West regions, where up to 17,700 MW of new generation – mostly wind and solar energy – is looking for connection to the grid.

The state is working with transmission operator Transgrid to deliver the strategy and will work with other states and regulators to streamline regulation and improve conditions for investment.

Specifically, four projects are planned for the period between 2022 and 2024: to upgrade the existing interconnectors between Victoria-NSW and Queensland-NSW and to build a new South Australia-NSW interconnector from Robertstown in SA to Wagga Wagga and a new transmission from Snowy Hydro to Bannaby, via Wagga Wagga.

Such plan is indispensable for NSW as its major coal-fired power plants, including Liddell scheduled for closure in 2022, are nearing decommissioning. 

The grid upgrade strategy closely follows the launch of the NSW government’s $55 million Emerging Energy Program, aimed at supporting the commercialization of new low-emissions, large-scale power generation and storage projects.