NSW refines transmission plans for Central-West Orana REZ


The New South Wales government has refined its plans for the new transmission infrastructure which will enable at least 3 GW of large-scale solar, wind and energy storage projects participating in the Central-West Orana Renewable Energy Zone (REZ) to connect to the rest of the network.

The Central-West Orana REZ, which encompasses approximately 20,000 square kilometres centred on the town of Dubbo, is expected to deliver at least 3 GW of new network capacity by the mid-2020s, enough to power 1.4 million homes.

The Energy Corporation of NSW (EnergyCo) said the development of new transmission infrastructure to connect that renewable energy generation to the grid will be critical for the successful operation of the coordinated clean energy zone and a scoping report for the transmission project has now been submitted to the Department of Planning and Environment.

The scoping report released on Monday shows the Central-West Orana REZ will be serviced by new transmission network infrastructure, with EnergyCo seeking approval for the construction and operation of new 330 kV and 500 kV high-capacity transmission lines and associated infrastructure to connect to the National Electricity Market, energy hubs at Merotherie and Elong Elong, and a new substation at Wollar.

The report presents a preliminary analysis of environmental issues that will be assessed in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), as well as the infrastructure proposed for the project.

The scoping report also outlines a refined one-kilometre transmission network study corridor, down from the five-kilometre wide study corridor announced earlier this year.

EnergyCo, which has been tasked with implementing the government’s REZs, has previously announced a shortlist of companies to serve as network operator for the Central-West Orana REZ with electricity distributor Endeavour Energy, Cobra, and ACE Energy (which includes Spanish renewable energy company Acciona), in the running.

The Central-West Orana REZ is the first of five designated clean energy zones detailed in the NSW Government’s Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap. REZs will also be developed in the New England, Hunter-Central Coast, South-West and Illawarra regions.

NSW Treasurer and Energy Minister Matt Kean said the Central-West Orana REZ will play a pivotal role in the state’s plans to deliver a cheaper, cleaner and more reliable energy sector as the state transitions from coal-fired power.

“Combining generation and storage with poles and wires, the REZ will capitalise on economies of scale to deliver energy to homes and businesses in NSW,” he said.

“Once complete this REZ will provide at least 3,000 MW 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.”

A call for registrations of interest process conducted in 2020 attracted more than 100 registrations, totalling 27 GW of renewable energy capacity, valued at an estimated $38 billion.

EnergyCo said it will now host a series of information sessions to support the release of the scoping report. EnergyCo will also start preparing the EIS for the REZ transmission project which is planned for public exhibition in mid-2023.

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