The New South Wales (NSW) government’s plan to bring 12 GW of renewable energy and 2 GW of storage online by 2030 has received a boost with the formal declaration of Australia’s first coordinated renewable energy zone (REZ).
NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean announced on Thursday that the Central-West Orana REZ, centred on the inland town of Dubbo, has been formally declared, paving the way for a huge pipeline of large-scale renewable energy generation and storage projects to come online, creating thousands of jobs and providing enough cheap, clean and reliable electricity to power more than a million homes.
“New South Wales is driving the nation’s action on climate change, by securing our economic and environmental prosperity for decades to come,” he said.
“Once complete this REZ will provide at least 3000 megawatts of cheap, reliable electricity, enough to power 1.4 million homes. It will also drive $5.2 billion in private investment into the Central West by 2030, supporting around 3,900 construction jobs.”
The declaration is the first step in formalising the REZ under the Electricity Infrastructure Investment Act 2020. It sets out the intended size, location and infrastructure that will make up the Central-West Orana REZ which is centred on Dubbo and extends west to Narromine and east beyond Mudgee and takes in Wellington to the south and Gilgrandra to the north.
While the network capacity for the REZ is listed as 3 GW of solar and wind generation with transmission and storage, that is expected to be increased with the declaration highlighting there is scope for additional generation, storage and network infrastructure to be added in the future.
The Central-West Orana REZ is one of five designated clean energy areas detailed in the NSW Government’s electricity roadmap, which will support more than $32 billion of investment in renewable energy generation, storage and transmission in the state.
REZs will also be developed in the New England, South-West, Hunter-Central Coast and Illawarra regions and are expected to bring 12 GW of renewable energy and 2 GW of storage online ahead of the planned retirement of the state’s aging thermal-generation fleet.
The Central-West Orana region was selected to host the state’s first REZ due to the level of planning and investment in new solar, wind and energy storage projects already underway in the region, with about 4.5 GW of renewable energy projects either approved or in the planning system.
A call for registrations of interest in the Central-West Orana REZ last year attracted 113 registrations, totalling 27 GW and valued at $38 billion, a response that Kean labelled “astounding”.
The Central-West Orana REZ was formally declared on 5 November, just 12 months after the state government legislated to install 12 GW of renewable generation and 2 GW of energy storage over 10 years, to replace retiring coal-plant generation.
“In New South Wales, we not only have targets and plans, we also have nation-leading legislation that will deliver on our commitment to halve emissions by 2030 and achieve net zero by 2050,” Kean said.
“REZs are modern-day power stations which bring together low-cost solar and wind generation with transmission and storage to produce cheap, clean and reliable electricity.”
EnergyCo to oversee infrastructure
The state-owned Energy Corporation of NSW (EnergyCo) has been appointed as the infrastructure planner for the Central-West Orana REZ and will coordinate the transmission, generation, firming and storage projects.
The first stage of the Central-West Orana REZ will be the development of new high-voltage transmission infrastructure, including power lines and substations, to connect renewable energy projects, including large-scale wind and solar farms to the existing electricity network.
New high-voltage transmission lines have been proposed to run in a 180-kilometre corridor from the existing network near Merriwa, passing south of Dunedoo before continuing south-west and connecting at the existing network east of Wellington. The study corridor includes an option to extend further south near Lake Burrendong. The existing 500 kV Wollar substation will also be upgraded as part of the Central-West Orana REZ Transmission project.
The new infrastructure will be delivered by the NSW transmission planner TransGrid.
The Central-West Orana REZ Transmission Project is expected to be shovel-ready at the end of 2022, with construction commencing in early 2023.
Member for Dubbo Dugald Saunders said the declaration of the Central-West Orana REZ was a great milestone for the region.
“Our region is blessed with some of the best renewable resources anywhere in the country, and this REZ will provide jobs, investment and economic benefits for generations to come,” he said.
This content is protected by copyright and may not be reused. If you want to cooperate with us and would like to reuse some of our content, please contact: email@example.com.
Would someone explain how the transmission line will be funded? Transgrid will not be able to provide funding without commitments to long-term capacity payments. If these costs are expected to be paid by electricity consumers, it will have to go through a standard regulatory process in which case the Project will not be shovel ready by end of 2022.
I represent a landholder near Mudgee. Last year an application was made for a small solar farm on a site 10 klm from the town. It was opposed by the local council and a number of vocal persons one of whom stated in her submission unsubstantiated statements such as “it will be noisy all day long and all night long”. The application went to a hearing last December and we found the whole process was heavily biased against the application. It was rejected notwithstanding that the site was shown to be the only suitable site near the town.
An instance of the bias is that two objectors were allowed ten minutes argument on the basis that they claimed to represent community organisations which have not before or since been known to exist whereas I, representing the landholder, was cut off after three minutes, as I was attempting to point out errors and misrepresentations in some of the arguments from objectors.
By submitting this form you agree to pv magazine using your data for the purposes of publishing your comment.
Your personal data will only be disclosed or otherwise transmitted to third parties for the purposes of spam filtering or if this is necessary for technical maintenance of the website. Any other transfer to third parties will not take place unless this is justified on the basis of applicable data protection regulations or if pv magazine is legally obliged to do so.
You may revoke this consent at any time with effect for the future, in which case your personal data will be deleted immediately. Otherwise, your data will be deleted if pv magazine has processed your request or the purpose of data storage is fulfilled.
Further information on data privacy can be found in our Data Protection Policy.