NSW officially declares its third Renewable Energy Zone


The South West renewable energy zone is expected to see up to $2.8 billion (USD 1.7 billion) in private investment by 2030, with Mike Young, Executive Director at the Energy Corporation of NSW (EnergyCo), saying the location was chosen due to an abundance of high-quality wind and solar resources.

Another deciding factor, Young added, was the zone’s proximity to Project EnergyConnect, a major interconnector under construction linking NSW, South Australia and Victoria.

The NSW Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap largely hinges on the establishment of five renewable energy zones – Central-West Orana and New England, both declared in 2021, as well as the Illawarra, Hunter-Central Coast, and South-West. With these zones, the state is seeking to replace the capacity which will be lost as coal-fired power plants Liddell, Eraring, Bayswater and Vales Point close before 2030.

NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean (left) with former Transgrid CEO Paul Italiano.

Image: Transgrid

The state roadmap seeks to bring 12 GW of renewable energy and 2 GW of storage online and attract $32 billion (USD 20.7 billion) in private capital by 2030. It is an enormous undertaking, balancing the massive energy demands of the most populace state with a dramatic U-turn away from coal towards renewables in a tight timeframe.

In October, NSW opened its first bidding round for the New England REZ, starting up what’s to be a decade of rolling tenders.

Coming back to the South West REZ, the expression of interest process for that zone alone saw 49 registrations totalling 34 GW from potential generation and storage projects, more than 13 times the intended capacity of the zone.

In the wake of that early response, EnergyCo conducted a review of the submissions and has since refined the geographic boundary of the South West REZ.

“The refined boundary for the South-West REZ geographic area seeks to deliver a balanced and optimal outcome, considering the likely technical and economic feasibility issues for renewable energy and storage project developments, network infrastructure considerations, land-use constraints, and stakeholder views,” EnergyCo said at the time.

EnergyCo is the infrastructure planner for the South West REZ and will coordinate transmission, generation and storage projects.

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