The New South Wales (NSW) Government said it had received a “huge” response to the registration of interest (ROI) process for the South-West Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) with more than 34 GW of wind, solar PV and energy storage proposals received, more than 10 times the zone’s proposed capacity.
The NSW Government conducted a ROI process in October and November for the South-West REZ, one of five designated clean energy areas detailed in the state government’s electricity roadmap, which is expected to support more than $32 billion of investment in renewable energy generation, storage and transmission.
Energy Corporation (EnergyCo) of NSW chief executive James Hay said on Friday the response from industry and existing and proposed renewable energy developers to the ROI process had been “outstanding”.
“There were 49 registrations totalling over 34 GW from potential generation and storage projects – 13 times the intended capacity for the South-West REZ, which will be no less than 2.5 GW,” he said.
“This project will bring an economic boost to the region and with interest from a variety of established and innovative technologies including wind, solar, battery and hydrogen projects.”
The South-West REZ, centred around the inland town of Hay in the western Riverina region, is one of five REZs planned to help replace the state’s ageing coal-fired power stations, with four of its five fossil-fuelled power plants expected to close in the next 15 years, starting with the 1,680 MW Liddell Power Station in 2023-24.
REZs will also be developed in the New England, Hunter-Central Coast, Illawarra and Central-West Orana regions and are expected to bring 12 GW of renewable energy and 2 GW of storage online.
The Central-West Orana REZ, centred on the inland town of Dubbo, was the first of the REZs to be launched with the call for registrations of interest in 2020 attracting 27 GW of proposals when it sought 3 GW.
The ROI process for the New England REZ, based around Armidale, was also flooded with expressions of interest, with investors tabling 34 GW of proposals for a likely capacity of 8 GW.
EnergyCo, the statutory authority established by the NSW Government to lead the delivery of the state’s REZs, said the capacity of the South-West REZ will be no less than 2.5 GW with the area chosen due to “an abundance of high-quality wind and solar resources, relative land-use compatibility and existing strong investor interest”.
Its proximity to the 900-kilometre EnergyConnect project, an interconnector being built by Transgrid and ElectraNet between the NSW town of Wagga Wagga and Robertstown in South Australia, with a connection to Red Cliffs in Victoria, is also considered key. The project will also upgrade the 330 kV transmission line to 500 kV between Wagga Wagga and Dinawan, which links to the eastern edge of the REZ.
Hay said the information provided in the latest ROI process will inform the timing, capacity, design and location of the South-West REZ.
“Through this process, the NSW Government will take the important first steps to ensure all voices are heard as this vital piece of clean energy infrastructure is delivered for NSW,” he said.
“The number of responses to the ROI reflects the strong level of interest in the south-west and helps ensure only the best projects which benefit the community and maximise local renewable jobs and investment in the region will be picked.”
Hay said the South-West REZ is a significant undertaking and will take several years to plan, design and build and will most likely be delivered in stages.
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